Let Us Reflect Upon Snakes and Heroes, Progress and Challenge

In So Many Ways, This Felt Like an Election Suitable for 2020. What Next?


Are We Having Fun Yet? Is It Over Yet?

One may be forgiven for asking either or both of these questions about the 2020 elections. At various times in recent weeks, the answer to the first question for many of us has been “Not YET!”, followed by “Yeah! – Sort Of!” For the second question, mercifully, it seems about over. But Trump has over 70 days of potential mischief to play around with and some races are close, so don’t relax yet. Biden sees how dangerous that is.

Still, the momentum to move on is gathering a full head of steam. Bide and Harris gave gracious and excellent acceptance speeches on Saturday night. Speaking of Saturday night, did you see the neat writing in the sky around the fireworks? Done with remote controlled drones. Spectacular!

People in the current White House are looking for and positioning for new jobs. Biden is appointing his first commission on Monday. Transition work is well underway. A small group is trying to explain to Trump this is not the time to make an ass of himself. Good luck with that.

The surest sign we are done? The Washington Nationals have invited President Elect Biden to throw out the first pitch for baseball.

Snakes, Rocks, and Sunlight

Many of us have lamented that 40 million Americans voted for Trump. Knowing full well who and what he is this time, they still chose to vote for Trump. It hurts your heart to contemplate this. But a wise observer has noted something important. Every ugly thing Trump fanned (racism, nationalism, religious bigotry, etc.) have always been present in our country, as in others.

This is not a new set of problems. The challenge now is to reestablish that this sort of thing is not OK, that it will be called out and confronted. Go back under your rock, snakes who foster such evil. You need to go hide and leave the people alone.

We cannot cure this sort of mindset, but we can thin its ranks and make it the pariah it deserves to be.

Heroes Are Among Us

For me, that list starts with poll workers and secretaries of state. Almost all have worked hard and transparently to do the right thing. Poll workers have pushed themselves to exhaustion. In a couple of places, they needed escorts to get to their cars safely. Some are now self-quarantining, over concern about long exposures in their workplace. But they preserved.

Add to that list the thousands of US Postal Service workers who, in spite of efforts by their so-called leadership to sabotage the system, made it work better than we might have hoped for. They did their job.

This was a huge voter turnout, and it may turn out to be the most transparent, the most normal, ever. Given the current climate that is remarkable. Hats off to my fellow Americans. You who voted are a part of this story.

A Lot of Good News

  • There is much to celebrate in all this. For example:
  • A record voter turnout, approaching 150 million. This is so unprecedented for us.
  • Almost no election violence or intimidation, anywhere. Did not expect that.
  • Frivolous court challenges are being beaten down almost instantly, at all levels.
  • A record number of female, minority, LGBTQ candidates ran and won, across the country. Looking for a symbol? Oklahoma now has a female, Native American, transgender state senator. Oklahoma, for pet’s sake!
  • A presidential ticket that is groundbreaking yet deeply rooted in institutions and decency won a decisive victory.

All in all, not bad for one week, America.

Real Challenges Remain. Here are a Few of Them

For me, the greatest disappointment was how well the Republicans did overall. Not just because I favored Democrats. We need a serious center right party; the Republicans are no longer that party. These results will make getting a new alternative established almost impossible.

Not a done deal, but odds are with the Republicans holding on to the Senate, by a vote or two. If anyone can make that line up work, it’s Biden. But it will take a bit of time to see where the Republicans stand and who starts emerging as leaders. If McConnell reverts to his old ways? If the loudest voices are the likes of Cruz and Graham? Then, the opportunity will be lost. Much will not get accomplished.

If the Democrats are good at anything, it is infighting. Biden’s instincts are good for what can be accomplished, and his heart is in the right place on many issues. If centrists and leftists in the party start an early civil war on agendas, the setup for midterm failures will be up and running. Let’s not do that.

Biden has made his priorities clear. Topping the list are the pandemic and the economy for the rest of us. Investing in infrastructure (including broad band). Moving the national discussion on inequality on the basis of race and other factors. While working all that, rejoin the rest of the world. Reassure our allies, put our competitors on notice.

Seems like a pretty good start to me.

Closing Thoughts
  1. Over next six months, one administration fades and another takes root. It will be fascinating, to say the least.
  2. I started this blog because of a trip to the Middle East. Spending time in societies that have lost the ability to talk to each other is a sobering experience. I was concerned we were about to join that club. Let’s hope hope we do not. Be that way long enough, and you never climb back out.
  3. Democracy is damn messy, never easy, always at risk. But I was truly struck that in this election, the citizens rose up and took control. Those on both sides were determined to be heard. And heard they were.

Good luck to us all. We have work to do.

      Bill Clontz

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1 reply to Let Us Reflect Upon Snakes and Heroes, Progress and Challenge

  1. This post is a classic, marked by both chuckle-producing wit and wells of deep wisdom. Here are other questions we should be asking: Are we ready to get to work, to come together around a common agenda? Are we ready to push the Trump years into the historical purgatory reserved for leaders who dwell in a pit of lies, racism, misogyny, ignorance and self-serving brutish behavior? Are we ready to work for common good by finding common ground rather than standing firmly on our own faction’s ideological bias?

    I am among those you highlighted who lament the fact that millions of Americans voted for the outgoing president. I wonder, however, how many of the 47% of those who cast a ballot for him are really diehard adherents to his person and policies. My guess is that about 35% of the Republican voters are among the Fox-loving conspiracy mongers; 20% are part of the religious right who support the party’s stance on abortion and what they call religious liberty. Another 25% are those who honestly (and, unfortunately accurately) feel that America’s political, educational and economic elite have neglected them, and that the president is (as I heard it described) “our middle finger to the establishment.” The remaining 20% are made up of the business interests whose primary concern is taxes, and fervent Republicans who are kin to the Democrat’s Blue Dogs…they will never vote for a Democrat no matter who is on the ticket.

    Finally, you really nailed it when you wrote, “If the Democrats are good at anything, it is infighting. Biden’s instincts are good for what can be accomplished, and his heart is in the right place on many issues. If the centrists and leftists in the party start an early civil war on agendas, the setup for midterm failures will be up and running. Let’s not do that.”

    This is particularly important to keep in mind when you look at what is on the line in 2022: There will be 34 Senate seats up, and as of today 21 of those are held by Republicans. At least three are excellent targets for take over: North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Incumbents in the first two are retiring and the seats will be open, and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is currently in a runoff and will certainly be a target in two years if she wins in January.

    This presents an opportunity to earn a Democratic majority for the last two years of the administration. To seize that opportunity, we need a party united around a positive agenda, a party that produces results in the next two years that will encourage Americans to return to the ballot box and complete the political transformation of our nation.

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