Joni & Ben Warned Us

This is the last of my hiatus articles; I’ll be back to my version of live blogging tomorrow. It is also the first work day of 2022 for many so I thought it was a great opportunity to put our situation in perspective and challenge my American readers.

In 1970 Joni Mitchell had a hit with her song, Big Yellow Taxi. The first part of the hook goes, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till its gone.” Her exact meaning, which is still debated to today, (I’d content that is part of the beauty of the lyrics), wasn’t what I will convey today but they she is a singer not a seer.

In my darkest moments I am among the many who fear that American democracy is imperiled. If I am even somewhat correct, then the 2022 election is huge. On the national level alone, it will determine the control of both chambers of Congress and that is not to mention the plethora of state and local offices that are up for grabs.

The Founders set America up as a republic which is nothing more than a representative democracy. When Benjamin Franklin was queried as to what form the then new government would take he famously replied, “A republic if you can keep it.” Democracy is messy and it is equally fragile. American democracy is under threat from within mainly by Vladimir Putin inspired unwitting and useful idiots who have seized control of the Republican party.

Between gerrymandering, voter suppression, voter intimidation, election official intimidation and voter nullification it will take a great effort to preserve the America we know. Historically democracies die from within. I’m not afraid of a foreign military effort toppling the American government, but I do fear – to a great degree foreign inspired – domestic terrorists. We need to look no further than 1/6 and if you think that was an isolated incident you need to stop reading and feed the unicorns on your roof.

While imperfect, America is the greatest country in the history of the planet. If we lose our representative democracy to a form of totalitarianism, we will not regain it anytime soon – for old guys like me, not in my lifetime – and it will be at tremendous cost. The example may be a bit, just a bit, extreme but look at Germany in the early to mid 20th century. Look at the price the German people paid in World War II and its immediate aftermath. Today Germany is one of the greatest countries in the world but the cost of getting back was tremendous and millions died in the process.

Aside from political junkies like me (and I suspect many of my readers) most Americans just take how good we have it for granted. “You don’t know what you got.” We will first miss it after we lose it, “Till it’s gone.” That’s human nature, especially for those of us privileged to live in a place like America. “Don’t it always seem to go.”

Individually there is little we can do to prevent this disaster but collectively we can do a lot. The most basic thing we can all do is vote. If you sit out the mid-term you may not have another chance. You are American democracy’s last best hope. Joni warned you in 1970 – before many of you were born.

This article was written well ahead of publishing in order to accommodate my year end hiatus and is the property of Its content may not be used without citing the source. It may not be reproduced without the permission of Larry Marciniak.