Wednesday, January 20, 2021

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Our apologies for the four year descent into the Emergency Broadcast System. 

Every president has an opportunity to be great. Donald Trump had that opportunity, and he did change our political culture for good and (mostly) for ill. but instead of trying to unify the country around an issue that both Republicans and Democrats could enthusiastically agree, such as rebuilding our infrastructure, he went straight for the Muslim ban, building the wall, and repealing Obamacare. His response to Covid was to hope it went away. And then there were all of those tweets. He also wallowed, and continues to wallow, in baseless conspiracy theories. 

History does not treat wallowers kindly. Especially those wallowers who incite insurrections.

He's ended his tenure with a graceless exit, refusing both to acknowledge his defeat and the importance of the traditional passing of power from one administration to the next. 

History similarly does not look kindly on unacknowledgers. See Adams, John; Adams, John Quincy and Johnson, Andrew. Add in two impeachments. Stir.

Joe Biden can also be a great president, and he's set an  ambitious agenda to tackle not just Covid, but immigration, the climate, economic opportunity, paid family leave, and social justice. He will have a slim majority in Congress, and the hope is that a couple of Republicans will vote for bills that will move the country forward. There is much he can do with executive orders, but especially with immigration and climate, it would be best to pass some legislation. We'll see if that happens.

My hope is that enough Americans see the insurrection of January 6 as a turning point in American history that ends some of the animosity we've built up over the years. Many Republicans are not in the mood to compromise. This will not be easy, but it will be necessary.

Biden will at least speak the words of unity and patriotism, but it's up to all of us as Americans to welcome them in the national interest. I understand that Democrats did not do this in 2017, and my expectations are such that I don't see Republicans doing it willingly in 2021. Time, though, has a habit of chipping away at the jagged stone of obstruction until it becomes, if not smooth, at least less perilous. Donald Trump did not try to unify the country, nor did he speak words that soothed or tempered the emotions of the moment. Joe Biden will do that. And words have meanings.

As always, I remain optimistic that we will become a more inclusive, more united, more compassionate country than we've been recently and that we will work to right the wrongs we've inflicted upon ourselves and others. 

Godspeed to President Biden and all who serve this nation.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

January 20 Can't Get Here Soon Enough

And here I was planning on writing a hopeful piece based on the new year and the Biden Administration taking over on January 20th. I was even willing to dismiss Senator Josh Hawley's stunt, in which he was going to formally object to the Electoral Vote count on January 6.

Then this happened. Eleven Republican Senators, with the Vice President's blessing, will also formally object to the vote count, and will further call for the formation of a commission to audit the vote in  states that flipped from Trump to Biden.

It seems they are concerned that despite the fact that no credible evidence exists of voter fraud, suppression of votes, or illegal activity on the part of states regarding absentee, mail-in, or voting machine votes, and despite the fact that the U.S. Attorney General, Attorneys General and Governors of states that switched from Trump to Biden, State Court, Federal Appellate Court, and U.S. Supreme Court Justices have found either no credible evidence to support overturning the will of the people or that, well, states can't sue other states and force them to overturn the will of their voters because they don't like the outcome, the election might be tainted. Why? Because Donald Trump says so.

Please understand that this attempted coup will go nowhere because both the House and the Senate would have to approve it and that won't happen. But also understand that if the House and the Senate were both controlled by Republicans and enough of them decided that losing the support of Trump's voters was too difficult to bear, then they could have stopped the process of counting Electoral Votes and possibly reversed the results of the election. Why? Because Donald Trump says so.

And that's the key here. The only reason why these officials are trying to subvert a fair and free democratic election is that Donald Trump cannot lose. He's been squawking about mail-in ballots since the spring, making unfounded accusations about voter fraud. Then he lost, which evidently can never happen, and he continued to make unfounded, unsupported, specious accusations about the vote and filed scores of lawsuits that essentially said that the election was unfair because...Donald Trump says so. 

That's it. There's no evidence, but these Senators, and 126 Republican Representatives, believe they must investigate a non- issue that's been investigated and adjudicated multiple times. 

It's a disgrace.

The president lost the election because of his terrible response to the pandemic, his vile tweets, his disregard for democratic institutions, his belief that he had powers beyond the constitution, his policies, his lack of political knowledge about how to get things done, his demeanor, his impeachment, and the general fact that both Democrats and moderate Republicans voted for Joe Biden. 

He lost the popular vote in 2016 and 2020 and his approval ratings were stuck in the mid-40s for almost his entire presidency. He was never broadly popular, and in Joe Biden, 81 million people saw a leader who would restore our pride, place in the world, faith in democratic institutions, and reliance on facts and science.

That, obviously, is not enough for the president or the Republicans who've decided to try and upend the election. There is no fraud. There was no cheating. There was only a free and fair election that saw a resounding rejection of a president that a majority of Americans did not want to serve another term. 

Trump's graceless response to his loss was to ignore the pandemic and the legislative process that might have resulted in more money being given to needy Americans until it was too late, and the rejection of a bill that funds the military because he wanted to keep Confederate names on military bases. For the latter, his veto was resoundingly overridden. He has not, nor will he ever, concede that he lost the election, and he will likely not attend President-elect Biden's inauguration or formally transition the presidency to him, which has been the foremost symbol of democracy after voting, that we have in this country.

Make no mistake: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as our next President and Vice President on January 20th. Americans can then decide whether they want to be part of the problem or part of the solution. The president and those Republican legislators who are plotting against the duly elected government have apparently made their choice.