Waiting for The Win

Yesterday was a long, uneventful day, a day of waiting for a conclusion that didn’t come.  The suspenseful process of counting the ballots for the presidency continued all day and into the night, with the frontrunner Joe Biden holding a good lead over Trump.  By the end of the day, Biden had won Wisconsin and Michigan, flipping them blue and preserving his path to victory.  Attention then shifted to Nevada (6 electoral votes), Arizona (11), Georgia (16), and Pennsylvania (20) where mail-in ballots outstanding are expected to run mainly in Biden’s favor, but where races remains too close to call.  Alaska (3) and North Carolina (15) are also still in play but more likely to end up in the president’s column.  At midnight, according to CNN, Biden had 253 electoral votes to Trump’s 213.

Today, the presidential contest will come to a climax, as Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona report additional returns.  If Biden holds his lead in Nevada and Arizona, he will have exactly 270 and Trump will have lost.  If Biden pulls ahead in Pennsylvania on the strength of the remaining 763,000 mail-in ballots still being counted in mainly urban and suburban areas, Trump will be toast.  It will be many days, however, before Pennsylvania completes its count.

Meanwhile, Biden leads in the popular vote, being the choice of  70,470,207 voters, or 50.3 percent of the electorate nationwide, and counting.  Votes for the president stand at 67,280,936 (48.0 percent).  Record numbers of Americans voted in this election, with about 67 percent of all eligible voters, or over 160 million citizens, taking part this time.  This enormous mobilization registers Americans’ verdict on Trump’s presidency and the direction they want the nation to take.

If Biden wins, the losing candidate and his supporters may cause mayhem and violence.  So far, state officials and the major news outlets (including even Fox) have wisely projected respect for the election process and the people’s will.  It is very important to the stability of the country that they have refrained from rash claims for one side or the other, instead reporting only full vote counts while urging calm.  Michigan is a prime example, where Governor Whitmer and her dynamic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, have been speaking out on the imperative need to respect every vote and the collective will of the people.  The protracted nature of this election count, and the fact that Biden has been leading the bulk of the time, is a good thing, in that it allows voters of all stripes to accept the final outcome as being authentic, if word of a Biden victory comes.

This morning the stock market is surging on expectation that Biden will win, while the Senate will remain under Republican control.  Whereas a plunging stock market would signal a foreboding of post-election violence and instability, the surge indicates investors’ confidence that the people’s will in selecting the president will prevail.

Image: C. B. Slemp, secretary to Calvin Coolidge,
receiving word of the election in 1924,
from this source.

 

Day 31: The Empty Shell

What are your thoughts on hearing of the unexpected illness of a president who has pitted his fortunes against those of a majority of the American people? After flouting and dismissing measures known to protect the public against COVID’s spread, Trump has gotten the disease himself. He’s in the hospital and said to be doing well, but any outcome is possible. He could recover after just a slight case, or he could worsen; he could die.

Many in Trump’s Republican party mimicked his cavalier approach to the disease. Just as he became sick, so too have a passel of his Republican allies taken ill with COVIDat the same time: GOP party chair Ronna McDaniel; First Lady Melania Trump; Senators Thom Tillis (NC), Ron Johnson (WI), and Mike Lee (UT); Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s close aide Hope Hicks, his campaign manager Bill Stepien, and former Governor Chris Christie, who, with several others listed here, helped Trump prepare for last Tuesday’s debate.

The White House approach to COVID protocols was lax, leading to an outbreak that threatens the stability and security of the United States by sidelining, distracting, and disabling too many of its influential figures at once.

Yet one’s overall impression is how little any sick or healthy Republican cares. It doesn’t matter much to Republicans that the White House can’t do the work of the people, because that long ago vanished as top priority. The Republicans’ main focus since Trump tested positive has been on his suddenly changed situation and what it might mean for them. The party’s agenda consists of two main items: rushing Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court and making sure (by any means) that Trump wins re-election. No one cares whether Trump misses a few days of work at the White House, because, in all his tenure there, he’s avoided the chore of serving the people.

This has become clear as his schedule over the past week or so has been scrutinized for the bearing it might have on Washington’s contagion. Jetting around to campaign rallies, schmoozing at fund-raisers, preparing for the presidential debate, putting in a ghastly showing in it, and hosting a GOP love-fest for Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden: such are the events that engross Trump most.

In the meantime, millions of Americans are out of work, running out of funds, and going hungry. Many are worried about losing their homes and access to medical care, even as winter comes on and the virus lingers and spreads. Businesses are folding, wildfires rage, and the bright possibilities of vibrant, solvent cities have evaporated. Cities like New York and Chicago, which represent some of the nation’s greatest concentrations of human and real capital, are barely holding together. Some vast piles of money that Congress set aside to help with these problems remain unspent or were spent improperly, attesting to Mr Trump’s ineptitude and indifference when he’s taxed with helping anyone but himself.

Under Donald Trump, the White House has become an empty shell. While he receives Cadillac treatment at Walter Reed, Americans can’t help but notice how little Trump and his ilk care about them.

Image: Currier & Ives print of the White House (1877),
from this source.

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.