Though Randy and I recorded this podcast the day before we learned the final outcome of Election 2020 — that Biden and Harris had won handily — most of what we said remains not only true, but (if it’s possible) truer. Pick the crossroads metaphor of your choice. America’s there. While some of us may have hoped for the election to resolve the mess we’re in — or indicate a clear, precise direction, circumstances have once again teased our expectations and hopes. Ever hear that joke: “How do you make God laugh?” Tell him your hopes.
Yeah — what that joke says. That’s kind of how America feels right about now. Never mind “What the hell just happened?” Maybe the more appropriate question is “Where the hell do we go from here?”
Episode 15: “What The Hell Just Happened?”
NOTES & SOURCES
I woke up this morning to the gentle silence of the morning. It was wonderful! One of those “wonder and awe” moments that really is at the heart of our podcasts. Usually this experience of silence, of peace, is a learning moment for all of the things stirred up in my own heart and mind; reminding me to take it in as a deep breath, and experience some calm. But this morning, just a few days after the US general elections, it seemed to me to be a learning experience for this entire nation; reminding us to take it in as a deep breath and experience some calm in the storm, so that we can be strengthened for the challenges we have ahead of us as this crazy year moves ever forward toward a new year which is filled with question marks. We really have to keep our wits about us over these next weeks and months if we are going to get to a place which so many of us want to go…where we increasingly need to go.
Alan, the dust-up has not settled (as we foresaw!) so it isn’t time to look back at our “prognostications” yet. We are still, to quote the Bible, ‘looking through a glass darkly’ on all of this. But that isn’t stopping any of us in this country from talking about our point of view, has it? I think the way we can contribute to our situation is to share, as we have been trying to do all along, a way that people who don’t see eye to eye on everything can have constructive conversations. Our hope is that it will equip all of our listeners, and give us all the courage, to continue such conversations in our own sphere of influence. So, why don’t we just share what we are seeing and thinking at this point in a quickly changing situation. What do you see?
BBC spoke of our situation as a country “deeply divided”, as if the goal is for one side of another in our country to win by a landslide. But I don’t agree. I see a nation unwilling to go wholesale into the ideology of left or right. (Can we say we are ‘non-binary’?) So, I see the differences as a continued challenge for us: are we willing to do exactly what we do on this podcast: to continue talking, moving forward together into new ways of living and being in the world that will emerge after Covid?
My focus at this point is about strategy. How do we get through this time, not just to “win” for our side, but to actually arrive at a place we want to go.
Right now we see a lot of arguments over power, control, and details which are motivated by apocalyptic fears rising to anger and an all out struggle to have one side win.
The good news is that the system we have created and live by in this country is set up to handle such struggles; a rule of law, a process of checks and balances to air grievances and, eventually, to make a decision.
Some want to get rid of Trump. And that is looking like it will happen. But that is not our goal here. Alan, if I understand you correctly you want, not just to get rid of Trump, but to restore law and order – to reinstate a kind of personal morality. You see defeating Trump as a key step toward this goal. But the goal is the rule of law-the checks and balances of this country-that is the goal. There are plenty of people on this other side of the aisle who would agree with you that this is the goal. There is common ground here.
Now, if this is the goal, then we must develop a strategy that gets us there. Simply getting rid of Trump will feel really good to many. But it won’t in itself achieve our goal.
Taking a strategic approach asks: “How do we get through this time in a way which strengthens the rule of law-which keeps our checks and balances functioning well-so that they are strong enough to keep us together as a nation.
So, from this standpoint a few key actions surface:
- We need to let what is going on right now to play out through the legal system. It is set up for that. (Some might say, ‘But people will try to subvert the rule of law and they might get away with it! Yes, but that is the point. That is what our system is supposed to be able to deal with. It is supposed to draw illegality to the surface and stop it.) If it doesn’t work in this situation then we have some tough decisions to make. But we have to give it time.
- We must remain vigilant and, at the same time, be patient. We can’t tear up the rule of law when we are not getting our way because this will not get us to our goal; even if the person we supports loses this election.
- We must persevere through this time to achieve our goal. We must continue to name what we want and decide how we struggle to get there.
Let me put some “skin in the game”. If Biden does win, I hope for a Republican majority to hold the house. Now, this is not partisan. Instead this is strategic. This requires our system of checks and balances to continue to function forcing us to continue to talk together as a nation for the next 2 to 4 years. If we can’t come to an agreement we will stall. If we can we will move forward and mature as a nation.
A few other related ideas:
How does “love your neighbor as yourself” relate to the situation we are in right now?
“To (Christians) the state, so far from being the supreme instrument of human emancipation and perfectibility, was a straight-jacket to be justified at best as ‘a remedy for sin’. To think of it otherwise they considered the grossest of superstitions.” p. vi. Christianity and Classical Culture, C.N. Cochrane (A Canadian historian and philosopher who taught at the University of Toronto who focused, in this book, on “…the revolution of thought and action which came about through the impact of Christianity upon the Graeco-Roman world.” p. v.)
We are not the only country struggling with core values. “Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite” is being tested in France in their own context. It is easy for Americans, in our isolation, to forget that we are part of a planet of nations who also regularly struggle for a better world.
I’ll structure my argument this way:
1 Let’s call this what it was — a performance review. Nothing more, nothing less. The boss — We The People — took a vote on Trump and decided to give the job to someone new. End of story.
2 Okay… It’s more than just a failed job review.
This WAS a referendum about Donald Trump — as every presidential election is about every president. Jimmy Carter lost after his first term. George Bush (sr) did too. Trump is not unique in getting fired from a job he sucked at.
More Americans voted for Biden/against Trump than ever voted for/against a presidential contender. That transcends politics.
We have to ask WHY so many Americans turned up — many of them entirely apolitical, having never voted before. Why now?
I contend this is LESS tribal than we think at this moment. Correction — it’s strongly tribal in the E Pluribus Unum sense. It’s our American tribalism crying out.
Even republicans voted against Trump — in huge numbers — and proudly. Because it IS about Donald Trump.
America is a big schoolyard. No schoolyard can tolerate a bully for long — not that big of a bully. We repudiated the bully.
One could make the argument, Randy, that America repudiated the bully but not the GOP.
Donald Trump’s behavior — as our votes get counted — is despicable. Again — even his fellow republicans are saying that and out loud, too.
The election also revealed that, yes — the “other side” sees everything differently. Let’s frame it in terms of the coronavirus. It speaks for everything.
No one wants a moribund economy. But an economy built on consumer demand must have demanding consumers. Consumers too sick or too terrified of getting sick will never be the consumers we need them to be. There won’t be any tourism, that’s for sure. Regardless of what we do, the rest of the world will isolate us if we don’t act responsibly. If we think this is bad now…
Those convinced by Trump that the pandemic is a nothingburger are flat out wrong. Those thinking “herd immunity” is all we need are sacrificing innocent lives on an altar of ignorance.
Trump is a wild card’s wild card. He’s a charlatan. A fraud.
If he lives long enough, he will die in a federal prison. That’s now a stone cold fact.
And it won’t be politics that puts him there. It will be his own criminal behavior.
3 Be patient. No one writes history in the moment. One should take ample notes however. We don’t even see yet the real implications of Biden winning vs Trump losing.
But mark these things that happened & will happen. They mean something. The market — knowing Biden won — opened higher. THEY have confidence in what that means.
Our country’s pandemic response will immediately gravitate toward Biden & Harris — since they care enough about it to trust the science and actually have a plan to combat the pandemic and get America rolling economically. The two are intimately connected.
Other countries will look past Trump to Biden. Trump shouldn’t have a problem with that, he did that repeatedly during his transition period.
People will look to Trump with trepidation (what will he do during the transition) while looking to Biden knowing that regardless of how you feel about his centrist Democratic politics, he’s a decent, honorable man, loyal to his country who served admirably as veep and has been nothing but a solid public servant his entire career.
See the line of high priced Republican lawyers ready to defend Trump? Know why there isn’t one?
Because even they don’t want to get soiled.
This election was a repudiation of Donald Trump. Oh, right — that was point #1. I’m supposed to be making point #2: be patient.
Perspective will help us understand what we’ve gone through and are going through. Getting perspective takes time. Apparently patience is a virtue. Someone should write that down.
4 The only Americans who should be afraid of Progressives and what they might do are rich people who’ve gotten away for far too long with underpaying their obligation.
That’s what taxes are — an obligation we have if we want our country to run the way we want it to.
Americans have a terrible attitude toward paying taxes because it’s treated like a punishment. And, because our government has been very, very wasteful. To make matters worse, our perception is that we get nothing back. Taxes are poured — a wheelbarrow at a time — into an open, flaming pit that produces $400 toilet seats.
That needs to be addressed and it can be. What if every tax-paying American got a breakdown from the IRS that documents exactly where every tax dollar went. And what if the benefits those tax provided to every citizen also was broken down. If Americans started getting their health care via a government-backed, universal, single-payer system, for instance, they’d see, on their taxes, that they paid x-amount of taxes and, among other things, it paid for their health care the entire year. To sweeten the deal, we could point out what a year without this system would have cost. It will be more.
A good measure of reality vs politics via the ACA: conservative people were much more accepting of the ACA if you called it the ACA rather than Obamacare. It was the same thing but the name mattered.
5 Okay, maybe you’re right, Randy. It’s not just about Donald Trump. It’s also about Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell, one of the craftiest politicians in the history of America (I say that with respect and deep loathing), pulled most of his vulnerable Senate colleagues back from the brink.
I have a theory as to how he did that. No one is happier than Mitch — still in his seat, still, perhaps, the majority leader (if for a very short while) — that Trump went down to defeat. Mitch has been the true conservative standard bearer — the functionary with the legislative assignment of making as much of the RW Money’s conservative goals permanent fixtures of American Life.
And, to his credit, Mitch has been brilliant. Never mind what he’s done to our democracy. As beneficial as Trump was to Mitch’s purposes, Trump made life hard. Too hard for a poor, put upon Treason Turtle. I won’t put here why that’s a fact — I have it memorized. Suffice it for here: Mitch is as compromised as Trump is by Russia. Terribly, terribly compromised.
The fact is, I do want what’s best for “those people”. I want the best lives possible for them. But the best lives possible for them has to fit with the best lives possible for everyone else. It’s a damned tricky balance — the one vs the many.
I will always give the many the nod.
From the Washington Post 11/4 (Philip Rucker & Robert Costa)
The urban-rural divide illustrates the pronounced polarization evident in preliminary 2020 election results. The split underscores fundamental disagreements among Americans about how to control the coronavirus pandemic or whether to even try; how to revitalize the economy and restore jobs; how to combat climate change or whether it is an emergency at all; and the roles of morality, empathy and the rule of law in the body politic.
*We Don’t Know Yet…
We are reacting to voter numbers that must be vetted before we apply them culturally. More Americans voted by mail in 2020 than ever before.
Progressivism is happening all over America. This was a mandate election.