While we all might agree that change is inevitable, there is no consensus about how we might welcome it, measure it, or adapt to it.
We age while watching the kids grow up and our neighborhoods evolve; we witness new technologies that can alter our universe, and recognize the scientific discoveries that lead us to give lie to those truths we once held. We’re challenged by accepting the norms and beliefs of others. We are favored to learn the cultures of peoples we barely know—if at all. Our politics are tested by the behavior and the acts of those we elected or opposed.
The changes of the last four years, low-lighted by the past ten months of dealing (or not) with a pandemic this country has led in the wrong direction, have created changes never before seen in what I consider a decent country populated mostly by people who are neighborly and helpful, caring and compassionate, considerate and empathetic to the plights of others.
While perfection can only be attempted—never achieved—it remains an honorable endeavor. There are those who would deny such efforts.
That ambition to strive for our mutual good seems to have faded. We seem to have fewer of those admirable qualities that once defined us. There are those among us who seem less friendly, less caring, less willing to sacrifice for the common good. Everyone suffers hardships in their own ways, but today, we are a country so deeply divided in spirit that recovery seems but a dim light at the end of a long, long tunnel. And we’re not sure if that light is an opening to a brighter tomorrow, or a light bearing down upon us without mercy.
Simple acts of kindness seem not just disregarded, but vehemently disobeyed. Relationships have been damaged to such extents that there seems little room for reconciliation. We’ve stopped going to stores that our friends own because they’ve decided to defy the orders of the state because they believe wearing masks is an infringement on their constitutional rights without regard to ours. Rather than holding the door open for someone, many are angrily slamming it shut and reserving passage for only themselves.
This is not the America in which I was raised. My father served proudly in the U.S. Army, fighting in what the literary critic and co-founder of the Partisan Review, Philip Rahv, believed was the “last good war.” My parents built a life for themselves and their children that respected law and allowed dissidence. Though progressive in their political and social views, they viewed conservatives as mere opponents with values not-so-different from their own. Their opponents were not their enemies.
They would be deeply disturbed by how America, a standard-bearer of a flawed democracy that was nonetheless vigilant in its efforts to improve the lives of its citizens, as well as those of others, has lost its standing on the world stage. Racism rages and the religious right busies itself deifying a man who postures with a bible.
While Joe Biden and Kamala Harris grace the cover of Time magazine with their promise of a better tomorrow, Mr. Trump appears on the cover of Der Spiegel as “Loser of the Year.”
This is quickly becoming an America that doesn’t even believe that the rule of law should be applied without prejudice or favor. We have watched peaceful protests be violently disrupted by counter-protesters waving confederate and Nazi flags, as well as by disguised saboteurs. We’ve watched acts of police brutality, including witnessing the very last breath George Floyd would ever take as a police officer knelt on the restrained man’s neck.
Few have witnessed an actual murder, let alone an ipso facto execution.
Including President Trump, many have found the right-wing extremists to include “some very good people.” I can’t recall that he ever weighed in on Mr. Floyd, but there are those who believe that the Black man deserved his fate because he had a criminal past—a past that might not have even been admissible in a court procedure. How many times is a citizen expected to pay for a mistake?
Most of my generation had parents who served in the Armed Services during the Second World War. If they didn’t serve, they contributed to the war effort through personal sacrifice here at home. I should think that any one of them could tell Mr. Trump that there are no “good people” in America’s neo-Nazi ranks. They are poorly educated domestic terrorists with gun fetishes, empowered by racism, and enabled by the current Administration.
And as if we needed further proof, just yesterday, Mr. Trump extended a White House invitation to Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio.
A second term would have bought this President immunity from criminal prosecution (perhaps), and Mr. Trump on Saturday tweeted that the Supreme Court’s tossing out the Texas AG’s suit was a “disgraceful miscarriage of justice” and wrote “WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!” He and 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives are vowing to not slow a post-campaign effort to give the President a second term, despite having lost every significant court case, not to mention the certified tallies of each of the 50 states showing that he lost the nationwide popular vote. Each of the 126 should be removed from office as called for by the 14th amendment of the Constitution.
Their effort should be called what it is: sedition.
It is curious to note that the alleged vote tampering by Democrats only took place in the states in which he lost.
Perhaps even more curious is how Mr. Trump has maintained his base. Had Mr. Biden not won by more than seven million votes, the President would have garnered the most votes in American history.
Seventy million voters apparently approve of the job he has done in the last four years. That, in spite of the constant blizzard of lies and the golf outings he said he would be too busy to take, the dirty dealings of his immediate family, the broken promise to spur a healthcare program, the tripling of our national debt, his efforts to deregulate environmental protections, a crushed economy and record unemployment, his policies against our humanitarian history of offering refuge and aid to the world’s disaffected, his disavowal of science and medicine, and his dismantling of a detailed program to deal with a pandemic that will have left more than 300,000 Americans dead by the time he leaves office on January 20, 2021.
The level of denial is beyond belief. The complicity is apparent.
He has made a shambles of the Republican party, turning it into a cult whose members only believe what their fears dictate. They are people of profound prejudice who, to cite Lyndon B. Johnson, if you have the “lowest white man [thinking] he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket.”
What the American “right” believes the American “left” will do to our Republic is beyond the pale. Mr. Biden is a working political insider, a centrist deal maker who will make his predecessor look like an amateur. He is long on empathy, short on intolerance. His “radical leftist position” would place him considerably to the right of Republican Nelson Rockefeller. He is as far as one could be from indulging a Marxist dialectic in any political discussion, let alone policy.
Tomorrow, the Electoral College will vote to confirm Mr. Biden becoming the 46th President of the United States. He brings to the office not so much an ideology as an agenda to mend the broken parts of our nation and its Constitution. He will also return a sense of decency to the Office.
As has been noted by President Barack Obama, ideology tends to take a back seat to the practical issues of governance—a flurry of paperwork that flows across the Resolute Desk, a desk that once hosted a promise to visitors to the Oval Office: “The Buck Stops Here.”
Photography by Courtney A. Liska
It was time to clean out the refrigerator, looking for the odds and ends that might be thrown together to make a passable meal. I had a box of farfalle, the bow-tie shaped pasta, of which I would use just half for the two of us. From the fridge I found three of four mushrooms—the white button ones—a single stalk of celery, a couple wilting green onions, and less than half a head of Boston or Bibb lettuce. I had maybe a quarter-cup of heavy cream. We had some frozen peas and there were two shallots in the hanging basket.
While cooking the pasta per package instructions (10-11 minutes, I believe), I sliced and then sauteed the mushrooms in a tablespoon or two of unsalted butter and an equal amount of olive oil. The celery and shallots, both thinly diced, were tossed in next. After a few minutes, I deglazed the pan with some white wine. After reducing the wine, I added one cup of chicken stock along with the frozen peas. Next, I added the torn lettuce leaves, stirring until well-coated. The cream came next and the by-now cooked pasta. Voila! Dinner was served, along with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese and chopped green onions on top. If I say so myself, it was more than passable; it was delicious.