Trying to keep up with the news today is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting. The moment we think we may have grasped one issue threatening to upend our nation, two more shocking abuses of power rear their ugly heads. It could be an unchecked run on our borders, forced school closings, the brazen raid on a former president’s home or countless other previously unthinkable actions taken by normally trusted institutions. This past election season, I ran for the Republican nomination to represent the state of Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate. During my travels across the state, I lost count of the number of times voters walked up to me as if in a daze, with wide-eyed, bewildered looks on their faces, lamenting the advances of wokeism into the very institutions Americans have long trusted. They would exclaim, “It all happened so fast.” But did it, really? Or have we all just been jarred from a dream into a living nightmare? For years we’ve been asleep in what we thought was a pleasant enough dream. Go to work, pay our bills, raise our children, be a good person and save for retirement. Day in, day out. Night after night, the same safe, simple, pleasant dream. Going unnoticed is the reality that America has been dying a death of a thousand paper cuts for decades — one small, deliberate cut at a time. Some cuts have been so small they didn’t bleed, and they healed so quickly we didn’t give them a second thought. Others we shrugged off, perhaps even accepting a Band-Aid from time to time for the “accidental” cut. They stung a bit, but it didn’t last long. So we continued on, managing any mild interruptions. We fluffed our pillows, pulled the sheets back over our heads, closed our eyes and summoned ourselves back to our pleasant dream. Then Donald Trump’s presidency disrupted the norm. For all practical purposes, it was Hillary Clinton’s turn. Had she won the 2016 presidential election, the cuts would have continued, the slow death of America would have gone on unchecked, and I believe we would have ended up exactly where we find ourselves today under Joe Biden’s failing leadership. The only difference is that we would have eased into this nightmare instead of being violently jolted into it as we are today. For this jolting, we have the left to thank. They have given us the precious minutes we needed to wake up and put a stop to the wokeism that’s undermining America. Out of necessity, since Trump came on the scene, the left has relinquished paper cuts for machetes. They’ve abandoned all pretense of civility, ignored the equal application of rules, and disdained moderation as they rush us toward that “fundamental change” Barack Obama once spoke about. With reckless abandon, they are now hacking their way through every cornerstone institution in America. Poll after poll marks plummeting new lows in Americans’ trust in bedrock institutions. Only 27 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in 14 out of 16 major American institutions, a record low since 1979 and a 5 percent drop from 2021. A Gallup poll registered sharp declines in trust in the presidency, Supreme Court, Congress, media, big business, public schools, the medical system and the justice system, to name just a few. Yet, despite all this, I have hope. And oddly, my hope is because of the left’s draconian actions, their broad generalizations of those who don’t think as they do, their blatant colluding and their over-the-top demonization of people they don’t like. The left is just doing too much, too fast, even at the risk of exposing the thin cloak of morality they wear to justify their heinous actions. They would never risk such exposure if they didn’t feel some trepidation… and rightfully so. As evidence of the American people waking up, I cite my U.S. Senate primary election. Pennsylvania is diverse and complex. I often quipped that every state in the union is represented in Pennsylvania — from its cities to its farmland, over the mountains and across the flatlands flowing with rich natural resources under the soil. Pennsylvania reflects the diversity and complexity of the entire nation. And it is here that I received the vote of almost one-third of Republican voters. My voters, who I believe represent the larger picture of voters across our country, refused to be denied their choice despite the millions spent to smear me, despite the nay-sayers and, yes, despite Trump himself, who told them not to vote for me. These 330,000-plus Pennsylvanians who voted for me are awake! They’re not afraid to push back against the establishment, the media, the naysayers or the politicians! While we were sleeping, we were content to allow the political elites to run the business of our country. But now that we’re awake, we’ve changed. We want our country back. The left is afraid of us. We know that from the machetes. They’re afraid that we are awakening from our dreams informed, angry, and ready to pry their grubby little fingers off the helm of our country. Trump’s presidency was the start of the violent shaking to wake us out of our slumber. We now see the cuts. We’ve removed any altruism from the left’s motives. We are not all in this together. We do not all want the same things. We do not all have the same goals. When Obama said he wanted to fundamentally change this country, he really meant he wanted to destroy it — and “reimagine” something else. The left’s goal is to gain territory one incremental, purposeful and well-thought-out step at a time. Their voters understand that goal. Unfortunately, our conservative voters, as a whole, have not been taught how to fight. This is changing. Step one: We need to know that we’re in a battle. So get provoked. Step two: Stop treading water and advance. The thing with treading water is that you’re still moving; you’re just following the current wherever it may lead you and doing very little to resist it. So forward march with vigor. Step three: Know that very few “leaders” at the top are incentivized to do the right thing. So when you find a good leader, support him! If change is going to come in this country, it will not come from the top down alone. It will also come from the grassroots up — from people like you and me. Since 2020, the left has quickened its pace. We all feel it. The fear-inducing way our government weaponizes itself against law-abiding citizens transcends political affiliations. It feels strange. There is an old Eritrean saying that a friend recently shared with me: “Our struggle is long, but victory is a must.” Let’s do this! Let’s recapture our country while it is still possible. Victory is a must, and the left has given us the precious minutes we needed to engage. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.