Like so many, yesterday I watched with horror as a mob invaded the Capitol Building, hoping to stop the certification of November’s election results. Inside Higher Ed asked if I would write a quick response to what I was seeing, and I immediately thought of the Bob Dylan song, “Idiot Wind.”
“Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull, from the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol.” The words of the Bob Dylan song echo in my mind as I watch rioters marauding in Washington, D.C., playing make-believe politics in their cloud cuckoo world of conspiracies and fantasies.
Though despite yesterday’s stunning turn of events, I wrote, I do see glimmers of hope:
That said, I was surprised, if not quite stunned, when I got up in the middle of last night and saw the results from Georgia. I know how hard people worked to turn out the vote in this runoff election, and how Black women and their allies overcame obstacles to ensure that the right to vote would be respected — and their votes counted. I have also been heartened and surprised how young people across the country have found so many ways to engage in the political system over these many months, despite the pandemic.
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As I was finishing, a reporter from The Chronicle of Higher Education called to talk about what was happening in Washington. I focused my comments on what had been accomplished over the last several months in energizing students to participate in the electoral system. I was thinking of—for example—Anna Horowitz ’23, who was on leave fall semester working on organizing voters in the Senate races in Georgia. Led by a courageous group of Black women, she and so many others were building the future of civic participation, even in a pandemic. “As we begin to restore order, let’s use education for the civic preparedness we desperately need,” I’d said on Twitter earlier in the day. Once again, we in higher education must recommit to encouraging the kind of democratic practice that is fully in sync with the goals of liberal education: habits of discussion, compromise, collective aspiration and care for the vulnerable.
It has never been more important.