A Pendulum of Political Despair
November 7, 2020 (796 words)
This morning the presidential election was officially called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The incumbent had an early lead in many crucial states once the polls closed on November 3. But that lead was subsequently erased after mail-in and other early voting ballots were allowed to be tallied.
As this process slowly and deliberately unfolded over the last few days it gave us all a chance to prepare for the inevitable. Now that we know for sure who won, the media has wasted no time in telling us what it all means.
For the record, I could have lived with either candidate as President for the next four years. Both men are flawed as politicians, and both our major party platforms leave a lot to be desired.
So I can’t really join the jubilant celebrations that have spontaneously erupted in many of our nation’s largest cities. Nor can I commiserate with my fellow suburbanites and the legion of rural folks who feel their beloved country has been stolen out from under them by socialist forces.
What does concern me is the deep divide between big cities and the rest of the country, as evidenced by the electoral map. And I am concerned about the constant search for political heroes and villains we all let ourselves get caught up in.
Donald Trump, may he rest in peace, was not quite the nefarious interloper his harshest critics made him out to be. But neither was he anywhere near the embodiment of a bold and principled statesman his most enthusiast supporters tried to conjure out of thin air.
The man had a few good instincts, which he rode to an unprecedented and thoroughly unexpected victory. During his one and only term, though, the renegade hero never really developed a proper feel for the job, did he? Which I guess demonstrates the old adage “fake it till you make it” is not fool-proof.
This experiment of watching a political neophyte attempt to lead the world’s largest and most successful liberal democracy has been a disjointed and messy affair, to say the least. One major irritant has been President Trump’s habit of dabbling in a constant flow of off-hand tweets and verbal faux pas. Many were immediately interpreted as highly offensive, becoming self-inflicted wounds that could have easily been avoided. But he stubbornly refused to take counsel from more experienced advisors.
As has been duly noted, Mr. Trump apparently lacks even a semblance of impulse-control, which is sort of a pre-requisite for being a responsible adult, let alone leader of the free world. Why would anyone in high office gleefully unfurl a continual barrage of broad-stroke comments that serve no constructive purpose?
While every election in contentious by nature, this one seemed especially so. It will be difficult to pick up the pieces and unite the country, as President-elect Biden has vowed to do. The “messiness” of our out-going commander-in-chief still appeals to a large swatch of this country’s electorate. Donald Trump may have proven to be a less-than-ideal messenger. But the liberal king-makers who have just ascended to power would do well to heed the basic message. Not least on the subject of foreign entanglements that are proving to be less than advantageous.
Living up to the bright promise of being a President for “all the people” is no easy task, as the forty-five previous occupants of the White House could no doubt attest. Particularly when the country seems stuck on a pendulum of political despair.
Many residents of the twenty-three red states are convinced in their bones Democrats only want to burden hard-working people with onerous taxes, and give that money away to the lazy and shiftless in the form of government hand-outs. While the vast majorities who live in the twenty-two blue states are tired of being left behind as Wall Street and the “paper economy” continues to prosper. They have been crushed by a free-wheeling economic system that favors the clever and the advantaged, but does little to protect the interests of the rank-and-file.
One way out of this political despair would be for our most successful citizens to call on their better nature. This could come in the form of no longer sitting back and waiting for “trickle down” to solve everything. If you don’t like big government programs that attempt to address social injustice by implementing confiscatory taxes, then take the bull by the horns and balance the scales yourself.
We won’t need a federally-mandated minimum wage, to examine just one aspect of the dreaded “socialist” Democrat agenda, if our major corporations and international conglomerates and private-equity success stories would start basing more of their compensation policies on distributive justice, instead of focusing so much of their attention on executive pay and investor return.
Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr
November 7, 2020