Two paragraphs in Michelle Goldberg’s op today send thrills up my spine

Not chills, no. Thrills.

Goldberg visited Ukraine a few years ago and today tells us about some of her Ukrainian contacts, what they’re feeling and thinking, in her op, “Why Ukrainians Believe They Can Win.”

Here are the two paragraphs:

Ukraine has had two revolutions in less than two decades; there was also the Orange Revolution, which erupted after Yanukovych was accused of trying to steal the election in 2004. Nataliya Gumenyuk, a Ukrainian journalist and author of “Lost Island: Tales From the Occupied Crimea,” told me these revolutions have instilled in Ukrainians a strong sense of their own agency. “Ukraine has a positive case of toppling a dictator, doing something that used to be unthinkable,” she said, speaking from Kyiv in the middle of the night.

She noted that Zelensky has directly appealed to the public in Russia and Belarus. “We seriously believe that if people, independent people, stand up,” they can force their leaders to bend. “Because with us it’s like that,” she said.

Their own agency.

Every time I hear from people terrified about Trump and the detritus of his anomalous four-year rule, people who cite the aftermath of the Weimar Republic and the autocratic lean of certain middle European countries, I say, “But we are not like them.”

Why not? Because, if Ukrainians have found their agency, their power by overthrowing a Russian tool and having an election, what can you say about the United States’s 230 year history of voting? Of fighting every decade toward full, untrammeled voting rights for all of us?

In 2020, 150 million people in this country voted. This is agency, the most pointed description of democracy.

We, too, can force our leaders to bend. Actually, we can force them to get the hell out of our government.



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