Day 15: The No and the New

The only way to rid the nation of Trump is to vote for Biden. It’s a strategic fact driving millions of Democrats, independents, and Republicans to fill out the same bubble on their ballots, temporarily coalescing into a vast and powerful coalition. If they get their way, Joe Biden, perhaps the most underrated frontrunner in US history, will be the oldest person ever elected to the presidency. He is also one of the most knowing national politicians when it comes to our civic traditions, when it comes to the machinery of government and foreign affairs, and when it comes to the people on the Hill, who are the crucial players when it comes to deals.

Saying no to Trump is saying yes to Biden. Implicitly, the contest between the two is an opportunity to reject an “imperial presidency” in favor of a more balanced Constitutional government. Under Trump and his allies, the tripartite organism born of the Constitution has grossly atrophied. The federalism that holds the states and citizens together in one powerful conglomeration is now bitterly resented and railed against, as though the Proud Boys or Wolverine Watchmen or even Anonymous could build up something more viable and fairer in its place.

If Trump wins, what’s left of the republic will swiftly decline. If Biden wins, the republic will survive, but barely. For the scars of Trump’s wreckage to heal, the body politic will need much in the way of restoration and reform. “Build Back Better,” indeed. Forces at work in American society ordain that, if elected, Biden will preside over a political rehabilitation reshaping the economy, the presidency, Congress, and the parties. Paradoxically, then, one of the oldest members of the old political guard stands to authorize and usher in a dramatically new age.

Those who believe the federal experiment is worth continuing will vote for Biden. Blue voters believe that they can resolve the current crisis in a way that promotes Americans’ collective health, security, and prosperity. They believe that saying no to Trump is saying yes to a new and improved United States.

Image: “Condemned to Die” (1894),
from this source.

Illustration from Puck’s magazine shows reformers building a guillotine
for corrupt politicians condemned in the court of public opinion.

Day 37: Biden and A Return To Normalcy

Joe Biden comes across as such a nice guy that it’s easy to discount how smart, capable, and hard-driving he is. Despite being blatantly imperfect and visibly elderly, he embodies several qualities–such as pragmatism, civility, and a deep familiarity with the nuts and bolts of governmental processes–that the US desperately needs in the presidency.

Biden isn’t trying to be overly charismatic.  He isn’t promising to fix everything that’s wrong with our culture and political system. He isn’t trying to have the most earth-shattering agenda.  He is, however, someone who thoroughly understands the issues the nation faces, and he approaches them in a sophisticated and thoughtful way. He knows the backstories and the players. Moreover, Biden abides by a tradition of statesmanship that has drawn men and women to dedicate themselves to national service in hopes of earning broad public gratitude, favor, and esteem.

Presidents are uniquely dependent on the American people for their position and prestige, a dependence that every president except Donald Trump has recognized by treating American citizens with honor, reverence, and consideration.

Trump is alone among American presidents in denigrating the people. Far from having an affectionate relationship with Americans, he has insulted, defamed, and even threatened violence against them and their state governments. This is so subversive of American norms and Constitutional order that most Americans are dumbfounded. Nothing will be left of this government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” if the people let the incumbent president usurp their power.

Climate change, health care, women’s rights, black equality: these are all important issues, but acting on them is mainly Congress’s job. This presidential election is about something far simpler and more urgently necessary. It’s about having a president who respects the people as the source of his power.  Biden will be a fine and honorable president: one who respects all the people, serves them, and makes them proud.

Image: Biden discussing a chemical weapons treaty
during a 1997 meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
as his Republican colleague Jesse Helms looks on,
from this source.

Day 49: The People Without A Party

The national struggle to defeat Donald Trump in November is going forward amid an exodus from the Republican Party and a paradoxical crisis in the two-party system.  The paradox is that, even as the parties and their candidates raise more and more money and draw the battle lines between one another more sharply, they excite more animus and aversion in the population at large.  It’s hard to be mindful of the huge swath of the American population that is withdrawn and disenchanted, unaffiliated and uncertain, especially given the hype that keeps Democrats and Republicans ever before our eyes.

This hype inadvertently sustains Trump’s power, a president whose popularity ratings are shockingly low relative to every other modern president.  Trump’s “base”– the amoral and low-information voters who continue to approve of him–lacks the geographic spread to prevail.  Meanwhile, legions of prominent and rank-and-file Republicans have either left the party, gone silent, or endorsed Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

The pool of voters available to put Biden in the White House is unusually large.  Let’s remember this as we work to get out the vote against Trump.  Innumerable voters besides those who are Democrat want Trump to go.

The millions of people currently without a party are something like “a silent majority.”  They do not need to be convinced to join a party: they only need to be persuaded to vote once for Biden and, by ending Trump’s disastrous presidency, save what’s left of our Constitutional system.  For that matter, the Senate Republicans (with the exception of the noble Mitt Romney) have so failed in their duties to the Constitution and the nation that the voters must try to depose them, too.

Image: Albert Levering’s “Republican Voters Revolt” (1910),
from this source.