A day of hope and relief

Yesterday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris was a joyful day of renewed hope for America and a day of relief, that this four-year long nightmare under Donald Trump is over and that, finally, we will have a national strategy to combat the Covid pandemic which has now killed over 400,000 Americans.

It was a day of hope and relief for this nation but also personally, as my wife and I drove out to Cal State University in Northridge, in the flat, enormous San Fernando Valley that is part of Los Angeles, to get vaccinated against Covid. It took about half an hour and we never left our car. We still have another shot in a few weeks, but we are on our way, relieved and with renewed hope that everyday life in America will improve, not only for us but for everyone.

So while yesterday was a day of hope and relief, it was also a day of joy. Joe Biden’s inaugural speech hit just the right notes for this divided, suffering, and confused nation. What has happened to America? That has been a common question these few past years with the chaos, the meanness, the lies, the ignorance emanating from the White House. As the pandemic swept over the country, the lack of leadership became more and more evident. No one was at the helm, because the man in the White House not only did not want to do anything, but he did not know what to do. That’s the danger of having a political amateur run a country.

The contrast, as Joe Biden was sworn in as America’s 46th President, could not be more stark. It was a seasoned, trusted, measured politician who took over, who urged unity and promised professional leadership. Here was also a man with a good heart that further reassured the country and gave it new hope just hours after his predecessor slipped out of Washington, DC almost unnoticed, still refusing to concede and refusing to be part of the ceremonial traditions on the steps of the Capitol. Yes, Trump broke all historical traditions by his absence, but no one seemed to miss him and maybe everyone was better for it. His presence would have been a distraction at the glorious event that took place yesterday in front of a pandemic-empty National Mall.

Instead, Biden and Harris got to have it all to themselves and they clearly cherished the moment. Biden’s speech, 21 minutes long, was superb, hitting all the right notes — the best inaugural speech he has ever heard, said Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Biden talked about unity, about lies and the importance truth, and about democracy, which we have learned once more, he said, that it is “precious.” And although democracy prevailed this time, referring to the Trump years and to the storming of the Capitol just two weeks ago, we have also learned that it is “fragile.”

It was a speech that America needed at this time, as one writer put it in today’s Los Angeles Times, and so, the start of the Biden Administration is full of promise and hope that he and the country will be able to erase the stain of the Trump years and steer America onto a better path. It won’t be easy, although the Democrats now control the White House as well as both branches of Congress. The resistance from the Republicans to change will be fierce, as Trump and Trumpism still control the party. How long that will last is anyone’s guess, but right now it’s unlikely that Biden and the Democrats will have any easy victories although so much is needed to be done.

We hope for the best, for America’s sake

And so, I have voted, early, with just a couple of people in line at the town hall in my little hometown, blue all the way, as if my life depended on it.

And, in a way it does, as, tomorrow, we will hope for the best but prepare for the worst, to paraphrase the Boston Globe editorial today, with Trump refusing to respect the election result and guaranteeing a peaceful transition of power, should he lose, which he seems to be doing, which he MUST do, for America’s sake, for the future of democracy in this country.

The divisions in this country are stark, starker than I can ever remember, maybe even starker than during other crises in modern America such as the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, to mention a few. America has had crooks (Richard Nixon) as presidents before Trump, but never a president who so openly disregards the rules of American democracy. It’s a dangerous time in America, whose citizens openly worry about possible post-election violence, with the president’s right-wing supporters heeding his call for resistance to an election result he might not like.

The unprecedented worry about post-election violence follows an election campaign where the Republican party has done everything to discourage and suppress voting. Nothing has made me sadder and more worried about America and its democracy than how difficult it has become for many people to vote. All over the country, legal battles are being fought about the right to vote. New York Times asks today in its main editorial what is behind this Republican strategy, which “has become a central pillar of the GOP platform.” The answer is simple: “When more people vote, Republicans lose.”  

More than 90 million Americans have already voted as the corona virus rages around the country with over one thousand deaths every day. But, ironically, the pandemic has also made it easier to vote, by mail and early in-person. Maybe we will see record-breaking voter participation this year? And maybe this will lead to the election reforms so urgently needed? 

I have said it before, but it bears repeating: Trump was lucky in 2016, losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes but winning narrowly in three key states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, by a total of 70,000 votes out of more than 13 million votes and thereby winning the all-important Electoral College. Can Trump be so lucky again? I doubt it. 

All the polls favor Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris, like they did with Hillary Clinton in 2016, but more so this year. But because the same polls misled the voters in 2016 by undercounting the white, non-college votes, the present pollsters are met with a high degree of skepticism, and all blue voters are nervous, very nervous, although it’s highly likely that the pollsters have learned the lesson from 2016 and are more accurate than four years ago. That would favor Biden/Harris. 

Let’s hope so, let’s hope so… 

After two debates, none of them has my vote

Twenty Democratic hopefuls, on two nights, recently tried to show the record large television audience that they were presidential material, that they could lead the United States of America.

They all failed. None of them secured my future vote. Who, of them, can beat Trump? That’s the goal. That’s the only goal. No other matters. But, at this point, I am not sure.

Instead, I asked, why they were even there on the stage? And why this spectacle a year and a half before next year’s November elections? The length of this campaign is ridiculous and so are many of the candidates, these Presidential “wannabes,” as the veteran Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King recently wrote, who are wasting our time. This election “is no time for start-ups.” Indeed!

Two women won the first and then the second debate. Elizabeth Warren must be admired for her energy and intellectual power and for the fact that she has presented proposal after proposal to solve America’s problem. I agree with her. But can she beat Trump? Kamala Harris won the second debate, based on her attack on Joe Biden, but did she go too far and will it come back and haunt her? Joe Biden bombed. Bernie Sanders’s message was old and tiresome. Pete Buttigieg was eloquent, but a mayor of South Bend, Indiana just won’t do.

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar and the two Texans, Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro, all have some political experience. But why are they running? And who are the rest, Williamson, Yang, Gabbard, Stalwell, Ryan, etc? Why do they think they think can run the largest and most important country in the world with little or no political experience? Should there be no limit to a person’s ego? Why don’t they run for governor, or the senate, or the House, or for some local office.

This is ridiculous. I have said it before, but it bears repeating: amateurs – stay away from politics. Look at Donald Trump – enough said!

Still, more debates will take place, possibly with some even more unknown and unproven presidential hopefuls. This can’t be the way to choose the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States. The primary system is broken, and Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen blames the Democratic Party, which has “opted for increased chaos,” as he wrote in a recent column and concluded:

“For too many candidates, running for the nomination is a no-cost exercise in brand enhancement. It’s ridiculous that almost anyone can be a celebrity . . . or run for president. There ought to be a difference.”

The only hopeful result of the two debates was the record breaking television audience, fifteen and eighteen million viewers, respectively. That points to, hopefully, a large, maybe record breaking, voter turnout next year, which is needed to beat Trump.