Sunday, November 8, 2020

Nice Guys Finish First

The suspense is (nearly) over. Joe Biden will be our next president.

I am a glass-half empty sort of guy. I often worry about the worst-case scenario. I fear that the expression “nice guys finish last” is true. That’s how I approached the Biden-Trump contest. In 2016, I was one of the rare people who correctly predicted Hillary Clinton’s defeat. This year, I was similarly pessimistic about Biden’s prospects. 

After the 2016 experience, I distrusted the polls. 
On election night this time, I was caught by the “red mirage,” showing Trump initially far ahead of Biden. I was quite despondent when I went to bed on November 3, believing that once again my pessimism was being confirmed by the facts. How incredibly happy I am to have been proven wrong! 

It is common to discuss US presidential elections hyperbolically. I can remember this happening over and over again, all the way back to Barry Goldwater’s candidacy, and beyond. The mantra is always that “this is the most important election you’ll ever vote in.” But you know what? This time it was true. This time the stakes were truly high. And this was understood globally. Much of the planet was on pins and needles, and when the TV networks declared Biden the winner, people reacted all over the world. There were fireworks in the United Kingdom, the church bells rang in Paris, celebrations in Germany, I received e-mails from Holland congratulating me, the social media post notices from dozens of countries, etc. 
So here is some hyperbole: The importance of this election was unparalleled in the annals of world history. The future of the humanity depended on the outcome of this election: Re-electing a buffoon would-be dictator who would decapitate the world’s major democracy, or electing a decent and competent regime that would begin the hard labor of repairing America and preventing a pandemic from turning into a holocaust. 

The role of the 4th Estate was crucial: Trump took on the mainstream news media from day one. He mocked the “fake news” relentlessly, and he has now learned that this was unwise. For now, the 4th Estate has won this titanic struggle. I thank God for the 1st amendment and the news media’s exceptional power in America. 

One caveat: over the past four years, the news media and much of the public (including me) have become addicted to (1) news in general and (2) news about Trump in particular. We are now going to have to wean ourselves from this addiction. The news media will have to find other topics with which to bombard us ad nauseam

Unfortunately, Trump is not done fighting. He is supported by 70 million voters, much of the GOP, a Republican Senate, powerful sinister figures such as Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham and congressman Kevin McCarthy, a 6-to-3 rabidly conservative Supreme Court and the most popular news channel in the country. That’s a lot of power. How much trouble they can cause in the courts between now and January 20 is anyone’s guess. Reverse the entire election? At this time, no one is willing to contemplate such a nightmare (yet)... 

So let’s assume that the Biden-Harris team will take over on January 20. Here are a few of the most immediate issues: 

1. Biden needs a strong and effective team to help him fix the damage caused by four years of mismanagement. The pandemic is currently growing at the rate of 130,000 new cases PER DAY, with no vaccine in sight. The president and the federal government do no have the authority to mandate universal mask wearing and other forms of mitigation. However, I have no doubt that better federal leadership will help a great deal. A systematic, well-funded, hands-on, science-based, uniform, nationwide approach to mitigation will help to flatten the infection curve and save many thousands of lives. 

2. There has to be an immediate rescue package of at least $3 trillion for the dozens of millions of Americans who have lost their jobs and are in danger of becoming homeless. 

3. In general, a return to “normalcy,” also internationally: Re-join the Paris Agreement, the WHO, etc.. 

4. Economic policies to drastically reduce social and economic injustice. Raise taxes on everyone making over $400,000 a year, raise the corporate tax, etc. 

5. Fend off the Republicans’ obstructionist allegations of election fraud, their lawsuits and other shenanigans. Remember that even if there were some sporadic election malfeasance by Democrats - and there is no evidence of it so far - it would be dwarfed by the massive voter suppression practiced by Republicans all over the country. 

6. We worry a lot about potential violence resulting from the election’s outcome: Heavily armed white supremacists and other Trumpite extremists acting out, perhaps some violent left-wing response. And of course, even the most minor street altercations are likely to be widely publicized by the sensationalist media. 

But what about the opposite? In his speeches, Biden often suggests reconciliation and mutuality. Is it not possible to think of an upsurge of love, unity, reconciliation? One can always dream. More friendliness, courtesy towards pedestrians, bicyclists and other traffic, give that homeless beggar standing by the stoplight a $20 bill this time, smile more, help each other more...? leave comment here

© Tom Kando 2020;All Rights Reserved