My theme this week, and especially today with the healthcare vote in the US House, is about late battles that went the opposite direction of an overall war.
History is written largely as a linear flow, and by the victors. Certain points of the US Civil War or World War II are declared to be the point at which it was “inevitable” that eventually the US would prevail, even if it took a while. But at the time, in the moment, you have no way to know.
Maybe the next big counteroffensive by the enemy will actually turn the tide in their favor and deprive you of victory that seemed inevitable so recently. Until it doesn’t — and you realize it was just the horrid last gasp. It is ferocious and massively fatal to those bearing the brunt of it, but then it’s over and the war winds down.
What if we’re currently experiencing our version of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944? That was when the Nazis made one last overwhelming push with the possibility of encircling four Allied Armies and forcing an armistice on the Western Front (which might have allowed the Nazis to win the war at least as far as remaining in power within Germany, even if not all across Europe).
In 2017, it would be the Republicans making one last massive counteroffensive that will claim a lot of lives and cause immense damage but ultimately be defeated. Ideally also leading to their annihilation, aided by a resurgent left. Maybe that’s pure fantasy, but it’s a dark hope that is better than no hope.
During the Battle of the Bulge, many U.S. units sacrificed to the last man to block certain roads and critical access points that prevented the German armored divisions from making the planned rapid encirclement. Every point the Nazis failed to take immediately then stalled their advance on other points, saving lives there, and ultimately they failed completely.
Today it is our duty to hold every defensive point to the last person, knowing that even if it falls, that sacrifice will have stalled the Republican counteroffensive from advancing on five, ten, twenty, or fifty other points of policy by which they would kill millions if they ultimately prevail. Eventually, we will stall them long enough in enough places to break their final effort and turn the tide.
But let me be clear: This will come at a severe cost and it will not happen without a ferocious, pitched battle.