I was impressed with Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ speeches tonight. Here is a link to both video and text of the speech. For me, one of the most welcome things to hear was …
“All those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again, and to make progress.”
These are words that we have not heard since President Obama left office on January 20th, 2017. This is the polar opposite of what we have become used to hearing and it was a breath of fresh air, a welcome relief after all the hate and divisive language we’ve become used to.
Now, a few people have let me know in no uncertain terms that they are not pleased with Biden. It’s not that they wanted Trump to win, necessarily, but they have issues with some of what Biden will or will not do. Let me start by saying that we cannot have everything on our wish list – this is a nation of 330 million people, people with different goals and hopes, differing priorities and values. As John Lydgate and later Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
There is much wrong in this nation today and Joe Biden is going to have a struggle trying to prioritize what must be addressed first, getting legislation through Congress, and re-establishing relationships, both domestic and international. We cannot expect to get everything we want, and we cannot expect anything to be accomplished overnight. For the good of this nation, we all need to be patient and supportive of this administration, rather than constantly seeking reasons to criticize. Some will call me a hypocrite for saying this, since I have been hypercritical of Donald Trump since long before his inauguration and ever since. But there is a difference … Donald Trump never had the best interests of this nation and its people at heart. Joe Biden does.
No president will be able to do everything we would like, and there will be times you and I disagree with the president’s actions … that has been the case in every nation and under every leader since the beginning of organized governments.
The things I am most pleased about in the Biden/Harris agenda are that they plan to re-join the Paris Climate Accord and reverse the withdrawal from the World Health Organization – these are two big ones, for climate change and the pandemic are the biggest threats to life, not only in the U.S., but worldwide. Biden plans to repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and he will reinstate the DACA program allowing “dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally as children, to remain in the country.
Biden will also need to focus on filling cabinet positions, which may prove difficult if Mitch McConnell remains Senate Majority Leader and proves to be as unwilling to work with Biden as he was with Obama. He will also need to re-establish relations with our allies, to earn once again the respect of other nations that has been shredded in the past four years. He must re-implement environmental regulations that were rolled back by the current administration that was more interested in pleasing the fossil fuel industry than in the health of the world.
And, of course, the first order of business will be a strategic plan to control and contain the coronavirus pandemic that is raging out of control in this country. To that end, Biden has already made plans to set up a coronavirus task force on Monday, in recognition that the global pandemic will be the primary issue that he must confront. The task force, which could begin meeting within days, will be co-chaired by former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy and David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner. He has a plan. He realizes that he cannot simply ignore it and hope it goes away.
Now, some of the things I’ve been told people don’t like are that he has already said he would not sign legislation that would provide Medicare-for-all. He has, however, promised to build on ACA, to fix what needs to be fixed and expand coverage. You don’t go from zero to a hundred overnight … small steps. I think that ultimately this nation will have either Medicare-for-all or some form of universal health care, but we have to start somewhere … you don’t build a city from rubble in one day.
I’ve also heard from some that they are displeased that he won’t ban fracking. Okay, I would like to see fracking banned, as well, but again, it doesn’t happen overnight. Win some, lose some – that’s the way it works in a democracy. And I’ve also heard displeasure because he has no plans to ‘defund the police’. Folks … you cannot simply defund the police. I am as aware as any of the problems of systemic racism in our police departments and yes, it needs to be fixed! But cutting funding to police departments is NOT the answer. The answer is more training, psychological profiling, and accountability. Federal oversight of problematic police departments is crucial, and any officer caught with his proverbial pants down is out … no second chances. Sensitivity training, which the incumbent has called “un-American” is essential. But you cannot simply shutter the police departments around the nation.
No, Joe Biden will not be perfect – he will make mistakes, he will sometimes do things we don’t agree with or that we don’t understand the reason for, but … he is a good and decent man who will do his best to heal this nation, to narrow the divide between right and left, to initiate conversations such that we can begin to try to understand each other once again. And, he will uphold the U.S. Constitution as per his Oath of Office.
The next 73 days are going to be filled with garbage talk from the current administration and we will have to do our best to simply ignore it. Biden’s win is sound enough to withstand challenges and recounts, so at this point, the incumbent is irrelevant, and we really can afford to ignore him. What we cannot afford is to lose our hope, to allow the detritus to bring us down. Keep remembering that awesome feeling when you heard, yesterday morning, that Joe Biden was the president-elect.