As difficult as the past weeks, months and years have been, this week is harder. In self-protection, other than glancing at the headlines, or getting updates via texts from friends with stronger nerves than I have at the moment, I have stayed away from the news. This makes me especially appreciative of Claire’s ability to articulate both our disappointment and the promise of what is possible over the next four years.
We were hoping
by Claire Zaslove, Seattle, Washington
I love Joe Biden. Many people are “meh” about him, but I truly love the man. He knows he is a transitional figure, someone who is here to serve our times, rather than to be glorified by them. He is the little branch that we have managed to grab hold of, so we don’t plunge into the abyss. Joe won’t lead us into the Promised Land. But he may get some of us talking to one another. And perhaps he will calm the far right down a bit. Perhaps.
We were hoping for a blue wave, an enormous rebuke to Trump and his Republican enablers that would allow us to say: “There! Told you so! That’s not how it is!”
But we are sobered, as we learn that it really is how it is. Even after all the cruelty and criminality and cynicism, almost half of this nation is still willing to vote for a sociopath and his enablers. The results of the 2016 election were not an aberration, they were a wake-up call. Yes, this country really is that racist. That backward-looking. That xenophobic and harsh. And, yes, self-serving and cruel. It is dispiriting, to say the least. But the reality has been made perfectly clear, and we no longer have the option of deluding ourselves about it.
If we had managed that blue wave, we could have believed that President Biden would heal it all, in his four-year term. That he would wake us up from our national nightmare, and make it all go away. But clearly it isn’t going to be that simple. Mitch McConnell (who is my vote for Antichrist, even possibly above the Orange One) may still preside over an obstructionist Senate. The Supreme Court is now packed with right-wing extremists, as are many of the courts throughout the land. It is entirely possible that President Biden will be unable to enact any landmark legislation during his term, nor to balance the Supreme Court.
Does that mean his presidency is doomed to failure? By no means. There are many things he can, and will, accomplish. They may be quiet victories, rather than splashy ones, but they will shift the balance—or, as someone once said, bend the arc of history.
- He will staff the federal government again with experienced, competent people, who know how to serve and deliver the basics of good government. This is not a small thing.
- He will protect these people from harassment for whistle blowing or any hint of ‘disloyalty’ so they can perform their jobs, on behalf of all of us.
- He will begin to repair our relationships with our allies and other foreign powers—partly through restoring the dignity of his office and partly through the relationships he previously forged while serving as Vice President.
- He can wield the power of the Executive Order, much as Trump has done, to reverse much of the sweeping deregulation and damage to the environment that has been signed with Trump’s pen.
- If anyone can actually begin to shift the tone of the discourse within government, I believe Joe can. Many Democrats don’t want him to be too chummy with Republicans, and I get that. They have sold their souls to the devil. But if anyone can smilingly tempt some of them back to the good side (or at least the somewhat civil side), I believe it is Joe. I think we should let him unleash his Irish charm, and not worry unduly if he seems to be too friendly with “the enemy.”
- Can he change the culture of “Screw the liberals” that seems to pervade the redder parts of the nation? Probably not. But by the time four years have gone by, they may notice that socialist hordes haven’t taken over their shooting ranges, and they still have decent health care. And, dang-nab-it, where are those Commie bastards after all? (I don’t mean to minimize this, or the dangers of the kind of thinking some people hold—but perhaps there will be, somewhere, a small realization that ‘socialism’ has not taken hold and ruined their lives.)
- I’m surprised that this isn’t being talked about but… if the Supreme Court winds up gutting Obamacare, doesn’t that make it necessary for the next sitting government to try to implement Medicare For All?
So these are some of the things I look forward to, in this gloomiest of times. And as for why I love Joe Biden… well… I’m reminded of Al Gore, who was the reason I became a citizen of this great nation. I watched him lose the election by a sliver, resulting in a terrible period of American history, and finally had to ask myself why, as a Canadian, I was holding my nose and standing on the sidelines. And I found myself wondering what is the deal with the US, in terms of voting? What is so “meh” about someone with intelligence, experience, good values and a leadership plan? Why were people turning away from Al Gore because he was “a bit stiff”? Or Joe Biden because he’s “not inspiring enough”? When did it become a detriment to be decent, rather than “sexy and charismatic”? When did it become necessary for a presidential candidate to be a rock star? Or…umm… a reality TV star? Or… a king?
As I write this, Joe Biden is not yet our President-Elect. I’m hoping that he will be soon. In the meantime, I will acknowledge that he may not be the charismatic messiah many of us have dreamed about. But he is the man of the hour. The times have found him, and he is ready. Ready to bridge us from the abyss we are in to a place where we can find the America we hope for. All of us.