Alan Zendell, March 23, 2021
We’re all weary from what we experienced in the last year. We’ve suffered terribly from the pandemic, losing friends and family members, jobs, and careers. Our children’s educations have been disrupted. We talk about things returning to normal eventually, but no one can say with any assurance what the new normal will be.
Those of us who took COVID guidelines seriously and have been vaccinated are cautiously re-opening our lives, even optimistically talking about re-engaging with friends and family next Thanksgiving the way we used to. Those of us who abhorred the previous administration breathed a sigh of relief as Biden’s people quietly took their places. We wanted to relax – everything was going to be all right now that reason re-asserted itself. But has it? We haven’t been in this cocoon of calm very long. We’re not ready to leave it. We need all our physical and emotional energy to recover. We have to rest, but that is exactly what we cannot do.
Donald Trump did not invent racism and he did not cause the pandemic. He did not create Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei, or Bashir Al Assad; he did not create the enormous gulf between rich and poor in America, nor is he responsible for our evolving climate. But in each instance, he either kicked the can down the road or left us with far worse problems than we faced when he took office.
Look at the current state of our country. Seven mass shootings in the past seven days, acts of irrational violence, which though unrelated to each other, suggest that we are nearing a breaking point. While most Americans scramble to be vaccinated against COVID, a shocking percentage say they will refuse the vaccine, endangering themselves, their families, and millions of others whose long-term health may depend on the nation achieving herd immunity.
We are moving in the wrong direction, politically, as Trump supporters and many in Congress continue to perpetuate The Big Lie and worsen rather than attempt to bridge the divide Trump used to promote his own interests. Right wing extremists energized by Trump believe their time has come, and unless law enforcement can shut them down, we will see more violence and intimidation. There is no aspect of American life that is not less stable and secure than it was five years ago, unless you’re a billionaire whose net worth benefitted from Trump’s tax cuts.
The Republican Party, once a symbol of conservative values, is at war with itself, unable to control its destructive elements and united only by a desperate need to obstruct the Biden administration and make it more difficult for minorities and the poor to vote in future elections. President Biden accomplished his first major objective, passing the $1.9 trillion stimulus/recovery act despite failing to achieve even a semblance of bipartisanship. Not a single Republican in either branch of Congress supported it, and Biden was forced to go the reconciliation route to pass it. He still has mountains to climb, and none of them will be easy.
The Biden administration must deal with voting rights, expanding affordable health care to all Americans, a crumbling infrastructure, continuing fallout from his predecessor’s trade wars, gun violence, fractured alliances, and adversaries who believe they have weakened us enough that they we can longer dominate them either militarily or economically. But first things first. We have to get our own house in order. The Democratic majority in the Senate must defang the filibuster. Like most Americans, President Biden believes in bipartisan leadership, but the Republicans, both Trumpers and McConnell followers, have made it absolutely clear that that’s just a pipe dream. Biden must continue to govern by brute force or face the kind of stalemate that plagued Barrack Obama.
Ramming through legislation by a one vote majority is not in the long-term interest of the United States, but allowing obstructionists to stall the vital elements of Biden’s agenda would be a much worse outcome. Our democracy is already in serious trouble. If we do not have the courage to do what it necessary to restore prosperity, health, racial quality, and human rights to our people, we will have little hope of fixing it.
There’s really no alternative. The voting rights bill must pass by any means possible. People must have jobs in the new normal, and the best way to provide them is to pass a massive infrastructure bill, again, by any means possible. If the Biden administration does not do those things, our future as a nation is likely to be a long downhill slide. That must not be allowed to happen.