This morning, like you I suspect, I'm disappointed.
The election results are not what I'd hoped they'd be today, but I can't honestly say that I am surprised.
I doubt you are either. We are a year into the Biden presidency the big promises are still unfulfilled. There hasn't been enough progress, or any really. Right? Biden hasn't been able to force through his big agenda.
Trump is out of office but things haven't really gotten better. Not really. Have they? Everywhere you look hate is on the rise, civil rights are under attack, and hysterical conspiracy rules the day.
Naturally, you're disappointed.
Democrats are disappointed by the lack of progress and Republicans are -- to use a Republican term -- emboldened.
Republicans are motivated.
Democrats are not.
Now, it would be great if the previous four years had galvanized America.
I mean, if America had looked at Trump and said, whoa, hang on, this is nuts. This isn't the future we want, this isn't the world we want to leave our kids. This hard shift towards rightwing extremism, this normalization of lunacy and conspiracy theory as fact, man, history has shown us repeatedly what happens when you go down that road. No. Stop. Back up. We're not having any of that, goddammit.
But that's not what happened.
Predictably, that's not what happened.
Because to a lot of Americans, that future looked good.
Just as that future looked good to ordinary Germans in the first years of the Third Reich.
America for Americans, right?
Sure. Who doesn't want that. So long as you get to decide what a real "American" is.
Democracy for all people. Sounds good. So long as you get to decide which people are "people" and which ones aren't. And so long as they vote in the manner you approve of. So long as your guy and your ideology always wins. For a lot of people, that's the kind of democracy they think they want.
Law and order so long as you get to decide what the laws are and who they apply to -- and who they don't. So long as that civil order benefits you at the expense of others because for many Americans, rights are a zero-sum and if others get more they feel like they're getting less. Because in a society that values profit above all else, human value is relative and your self-worth is quantified by your perceived superiority to others and so if there's no one to look down on, there's no way to feel good about yourself. Capitalism sucks if everyone has the same value, and that right there is the very crux of their visceral terror at the idea of socialism.
Peace and prosperity for all, for the whole world, so long as everyone understands who's in charge and that America comes first. So long as those of inferior humanity remember their place. So long as you are the most powerful, because might makes right and a nation's greatness is measured in the size and power of its military and thus its ability to impose its will on the world and compel respect by force.
Like the Germans of the 1920s, that's the future a lot of Americans here and now in the 2020s think they want.
Of course, that's also the future a lot of Americans don't want.
And enough of the latter showed up in 2020 that we, maybe, changed our future.
But Joe Biden isn't Barack Obama and his win wasn't a landslide and the future is never certain.
Biden doesn't inspire. He's not charismatic as Obama was -- or Trump. Biden is just not that kind of guy and his win wasn't so much enthusiasm as it was a repudiation of the future Donald Trump offered America.
But it was a close thing.
And it's not over.
And that vision of America described up above is still very much a possibility.
Biden made some big promises.
Democrats made some big promises.
Their hold on power right now is tenuous at best, as yesterday's election clearly demonstrated.
But then, it always is.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."That quote is often misattributed to Irish statesman Edmund Burke. He never said that, or at least if he did there's no record of it among his prolific writings, but he did say something similar in his 1770 Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents: "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
They will fall one by one in the contemptible struggle, indeed and the more things change, eh?
Burke is right. And so is that first quote.
The only thing necessary for America to become Germany of the 1930 is for us to do nothing.
To do nothing because we are not inspired.
To do nothing because we are disappointed.
To do nothing because Joe Biden, Democrats, made some big promises and they haven't delivered.
Of course you're disappointed. Of course you are. And of course the opposition is emboldened by your disappointment and the supposed failure of Joe Biden to deliver on his promises. Of course.
But this is normal. It's only been a year...
Yes, I know. I know. A year is a long, long time in this age of instant gratification, in this age of Twitter and Facebook and the relentless torrent of news and information and disappointment.
But in the grand scheme of things, it's not that long. A lot of you were disappointed by the first year of Obama's presidency too. And Obama had a hell of a lot better support in Congress from his own party than Biden does.
It's natural, normal, predictable, to be disappointed that Democrats have not, yet, delivered on their great promises.
Progress is slow. Too damn slow. Of course it is. Especially in the face of fanatical resistance and partisan opposition, when you have to overcome both homegrown conspiracies and foreign influence, the machinations of dark money and invisible influence -- and especially the selfish obstruction of your own, supposed, allies. Pragmatically, you must realize that.
Nevertheless, we want what we were promised and we're tired of excuses, tired of waiting, are we not?
Damn right we are.
Thus, this morning's election results were completely predictable.
But that future does not have to be our future.
The election results are a warning to Joe Biden and Democrats, indeed all Americans.
A warning, NOT fate.
Biden and Congressional Democrats need to deliver on their promises, big and small.
They need to do what it takes, whatever it takes, and deliver voting rights legislation, deliver a modern infrastructure that will serve America for the next 100 years, deliver renewable clean energy independence, deliver good jobs and a living wage, deliver sane and rational international relations and foreign trade, and, yes, they must directly address Conservative concerns regarding immigration and national security (in a manner that we can all live with).
Some of those things will take years and perhaps another Democratic term and maybe a better leader than Joe Biden, but some of that agenda must happen now (voting rights, for example), or yesterday's election will be the future of America.
The clock is running out and it's damn easy to give in to disappointment.
But it's in that dark hour when you find out what you're really made of.
And if you want that better future, then now is the time to be a better citizen.