Amid the hellish parade of disappointments in this never-ending year of 2020, some real heroes have emerged. Obvious examples include doctors, nurses, and frontline workers, not to mention the scientists and innovators working to create and distribute vaccines.
But what I’m talking about are the political profiles in courage. This year, a handful of heroes had the guts to stand up to their own parties and tribes, often at the risk of alienating supporters and endangering their political (and, increasingly, physical) lives. Those who rose to the occasion during these rare, defining moments in 2020 deserve our praise and attention.
Let’s start with Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager for the state of Georgia, who delivered that passionate “It Has to Stop” speech in December, calling out those who would threaten violence over the election results. “Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language,” Sterling, a Republican, scolded Donald Trump. Then he turned on Trump’s enablers. “This is the backbone of democracy,” he said, “and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. It’s too much.”