I think the recent election showed that a majority of voters in the U.S. have grown weary of the reality show and of the incivility, of the bullying wrecking ball style, of the indifference to, and often the disdain of, governance and of the overt self-enrichment. I don't think I’ve ever seen in my lifetime such spontaneous celebrative outpourings of joy across the globe after a U.S. election.
The current government of the U.S. and the man at the head of it have put such a damper on life throughout the world. I know many people in other countries who have become frightened and distressed that the America they had known and admired seems to be fracturing. But to see that kind of emotion, that expression of relief, all over the world on full display - I was deeply moved, and deeply chagrined for what the U.S. has become over the last five years, and for what led to that over the last 40 or 50.
The 70+ million people who voted for Trump aren’t going anywhere and that presents a long-term problem for governing. It seems we have decamped not into opposing points of view but into tribes. That is not a judgment on any voter or on anyone’s capabilities. Voters from all over the political spectrum are highly productive citizens in all types of jobs at all socioeconomic levels and with all different levels of education. They are good people who have achieved through lifetimes of hard work responsible leadership positions. What is troubling is the media maelstrom which normalizes incivility, which gives credence to the incredible, which sows disdain toward people holding differing positions or opinions.
That brings up the inevitable question. How does anyone know what is true? I have many sources of information but I was taught to doubt anything official, to take nothing at face value, to delve, to corroborate, to “question authority”. Mine, after all, is the “don’t-trust-anyone-over-thirty” generation. But with a hefty dose of skepticism, we can still arrive at some sense of common language, common understanding. We can disagree, even vehemently, about what to do, how to proceed, for whom to vote. But we need to be discussing that from a common bond of what we all believe to be at least close to true.
Maybe ... just maybe ... Old Joe could be the guy we need to begin to reach everyone, to touch hearts. I hope he spends a lot of time among voters in parts of the country that did not vote for him. I hope he talks with and listens to them, to all the people. Among the most profound human needs are to be recognized and to be heard. We need to hear each other. We need to see each other. We need to trust each other.
We cannot survive as a nation if we believe that anyone who disagrees with us is an enemy. We cannot survive if we succumb to bashing each other, condemning each other, believing that anyone of a different opinion is seeking to undermine the fabric of our country.
We are strong enough to hear different points of view. We are smart enough to understand different, even competing, analyses of our history.
But right now there seems to be a spite blanketing the country. There is a profound lack of grace. Many are sowing deep distrust in the institutions and processes that had bound us, a country of immigrants, together into one nation. Spattering mud across the whole country and denying the legitimacy of political opponents – whether in victory or in defeat – just leaves us all dripping sludge. No one looks good like that. And no one, regardless of political leaning, looks good flinging the muck, whether from the vitriolic anger of “conservative” talk radio or from the sanctimoniousness of the “cancel” culture. And we must recognize that there is significant profit in stoking division.
Let’s stop all that. Let’s remember that each of us is a human being. Let’s recognize each other’s strengths and vulnerabilities and band together again to move us all forward, even if only by baby steps.
The vilifications of the last five decades, culminated in the last five years, must end. Enough!
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A prediction: Just after the second week of January, Donald J. Trump, Jr. resigns as President of the United States. Vice-President Michael R. Pence is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. President Pence pre-emptively pardons former President Trump. President Pence attends the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as he becomes the 47th President of the United States.