Apart from my anguish for our nation, I feel a personal sadness for our President-elect. He is by so many accounts one of the most decent, compassionate, honorable individuals in politics today. His experience makes him uniquely qualified to address the nearly overwhelming problems our nation faces.
He has wisely chosen extraordinary individuals to help him in his formidable task. He has reached the pinnacle of an ambition he’s held for his entire adult life.
Similarly, our Vice President-elect. This should be an unvarnished time of personal pride for Kamala Harris. The first woman, African-American, individual of South Asian descent to reach this high office, she has demonstrated her brilliance, strength, accomplishments, and yes–compassion.
Yet when Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr is sworn in as our 46th President tomorrow outside our nation’s Capitol, and Kamala Harris becomes that multiple glass ceiling-breaker Vice President, the area will look like a war zone because of insurrection by extremists goaded by Biden’s predecessor.
And too many shameful/shameless Representatives and some Senators–whose very lives were threatened during that insurrection–will continue to publicly deny that Biden has won this election fairly and is legitimately our President.
What a personal betrayal Biden’s longtime friends across the aisle from his many years in the Senate are demonstrating as they remain silent about the Big Lie. It’s a good thing our Not-A-Moment-Too-Soon President has said he doesn’t hold grudges.
These Republicans are thus continuing to feed the forces of insurrection. I hope they are held accountable for their role–even as they snivel about the impeachment being wrong because this is a time for healing and unity. Good grief!
I suspect I feel as many of you do: the great hopefulness that followed election of the Biden-Harris ticket, bolstered by the Georgia elections that gave the Democrats control of the Senate, has become muddled by fears of what lies ahead due to the growing white supremacy to which Trump lent his imprimatur but is sure to continue once he’s gone from the Oval Office.
I have been striving for optimism about how our country will survive both the immediate threats and the long-term impact of this chaos on our democracy.
While I can’t wait for the Inauguration to be safely completed, I have derived considerable comfort from my strong belief in Biden, Harris, and their team to move our country forward despite the opposition.
With that belief comes the hope that if they are able to achieve solid, visible wins for the American people, at least some of those 74 million Trump voters will decide maybe things aren’t so bad after all.
In addition, I derive comfort from two voices of optimism (with whom I largely, though not entirely, agree) who take the long view of what’s happening in our country.
One is my fellow blogger Infidel753.
In addition to having a creative mind, far-reaching view of events, and an optimistic nature, he is willing–bless his heart—to rummage around the hate-mongers’ sites so that he really knows whereof he speaks. His thought-provoking post is titled “The wingnut mind and its limitations.”
Here’s a sampling.
“A striking feature of the wingnut mind is its lack of imagination. As I’ve noted before, for weeks now far-right blogs and sites (especially their comment threads) have been awash in fantasies of violence and slaughter, of shooting and hanging liberals, showing us who’s boss when we ‘come after’ them and try to take their guns or round them up or whatever they think we’re going to do. The expected circumstances are vague — it’s the thought of using their guns to take us out that they relish, in sharp relief.
“They expect us to come down to their level and engage them in some kind of physical confrontation in which their guns will give them the upper hand, because guns are what they have and what they know. That’s not how it works.”
In another post he cites, he makes the case that
“…we’re already fighting them by focusing on the areas where we have the advantage — propaganda, technology, culture, communications, economic power.” (emphases mine throughout)
Acknowledging that there will be further violence, he states that
“the individual perpetrators of violence will be identified, tracked down, and arrested, while those who support it too heatedly with rhetoric will be fired, ostracized, and rendered unemployable. Such people will be left physically unharmed but financially ruined — crushed by forms of power against which guns are useless.”
“I keep calling them ‘the stupid one-third’, and the stupidity matters. It’s not just a matter of two opposing but basically comparable world-views. People whose thinking is so limited operate at several critical disadvantages. For one thing, as I explained in the earlier post, our world-view is mostly consistent because it’s based on reality, and reality is consistent and objectively knowable.
” Theirs is prone to fragmentation because it’s based on delusions, and delusions vary from person to person and can change randomly. (The left is prone to factional splits too, but these are usually over real policy differences, not over whether Satanic lizard people from outer space exist.)
“Also, they lack any nuanced sense of history (their constant invocations of the Founders are clichéd, trite, and ignorant), any deep sense of how the world actually works, or any ability to think multiple moves ahead or to accurately anticipate the actions of their opponents.”
Reiterating that he expects some further violence, inevitably leading to “ostracisms, firings, and arrests and prosecutions,” he states:
“It’s the furious lunges of a cornered animal against the practiced and skilled responses of an experienced hunter. The animal may be big and scary, but you know who’s going to win in the end.”
“Crippled by its delusions, the wingnutosphere exists in a sustained state of tedious rage and pitifully-transparent efforts to sound frightening. It’s a self-created prison of cramped minds unable to conceive of the world beyond the cage of their own imaginations.”
These passages don’t do justice to the depth and nuance of this essay. I encourage you to read it in its entirety.
The other voice of hope is Anand Giridharadas.
In his newsletter The.Ink, which he describes as being “about money and power, politics and culture,” Giridharadas published an essay titled “We Are Falling on Our Faces Because We Are Jumping High.”
Giridharadas acknowledges that these are frightening times, and that “what has been unleashed, what has been revealed, is ugly. It is what makes democracies die.”
But it’s also “potentially, a very bright time,” he says, because when he looks to the horizon, he sees that
“This is not the chaos of the beginning of something. This is the chaos of the end of something.”
That “something” is both the end of 40 years of decision-making by people making up stories to justify their “money matters/people don’t” approach to business and government [my words, not his] and of white supremacy.
“And on matters of race and identity…, the Trump era doesn’t have the crackle of a launch. It has been a mourning. A mourning for white power…for a time when simply to be white and show up was enough…for an era in which simply to be a man, and not necessarily an especially capable one, could get you ahead of other people…for a time when you could be the default idea of an American and not have to share your toys.”
He sees us living through “backlash,” which is “the revolt against the engine of history.”
“Then we might remember — just to pat ourselves on the back for a second — that what we are actually endeavoring to do right now is to become a kind of society that has seldom, if ever, existed in history. Which is become a majority-minority, democratic superpower.”
This is my favorite passage:
“To be a country of all the world, a country made up of all the countries, a country without a center of identity, without a default idea of what a human being is or looks like, without a shared religious belief, without a shared language that is people’s first language at home. And what we’re trying to do is awesome. It is literally awesome in the correct sense of that word.”
Seen in this light, the Capitol insurrection and Trump’s attempts to overturn democracy are
“both terrifying and a completely predictable, inevitable result of people in power exploiting these transitional anxieties for their own pecuniary gain.”
But the task ahead will not be easy and, he believes, includes addressing people that many of us have regarded as unreachable.
“And what we have to do is get smarter than those powerful people. Get more organized than them, and understand that there is a different story to tell those who mistakenly went to the Mall and the 12 percent of Americans who actually supported that terrorist attack, and everybody else — a story to tell them about something great we are trying to do. We will actually create a country that’s better for every single person. But we have to be willing to tell that story forcefully. We have to be willing to fight those people tooth and nail, and we have to fight to win.
“We are living through a revolt against the future. The future will prevail.”
This message from the wise lawyer friend I often quote just arrived:
“After eleven days, the lessons of the Capitol Insurrection are that (a) the root causes of our national division are stubborn and complicated, (b) we can overwhelm white supremacist terrorists if we choose to do so, and (c) we should not expect any help from the Republican Party. It is up to us to save ourselves and democracy. The good news is that the 2020 elections proved that we can do so if we put our minds to the task.”
And here’s a brief message from our Vice President:
What are your thoughts and feelings about all the above?