Joe Biden Won! So Why Do I Feel So Bad?

We have lost—all of us. The whole country, everyone. Conservatives, liberals, libertarians, Tea Partiers, Antifa, you name it. No one has truly escaped the chaos, rivenness and rancor that abides after a relentless, four-year tsunami of invective and incompetence from on high.

All of us are dragged down and worse for the experience—even those who convince themselves otherwise, whose adoption of a near religious devotion to a cult leader defies rationality and the actual religion many of them claim to live by.

If they’re alive at all, that is. Upwards of 281,000 of us aren’t anymore, courtesy of a willfully, colossally mismanaged pandemic in which partisan politics was the sole consideration in the executive branch’s response.

We had heard incessantly that a swamp would be drained, and instead we are chest-high in mud, tangled in kelp, our breathing labored, our vision obscured, the horizon barely a memory.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” the Lady pleads.

What has happened that we ourselves now feel exhausted, impoverished, and struggling to breathe?

***

***

Four years of the hard rain many of us we knew was gonna fall have now passed, all of it upgraded to hurricanes we could not have dared imagine. Now, more than a month after ostensibly deposing the would-be tyrant who unleashed the storms, we awaken every morning to a kind of Groundhog Day.

Rather than celebrating another dawn closer to Inauguration Day, we behold the same dozens of crazed, obsessive tweets and laughed-out-of-the-courtroom rejections of evidence-free lawsuits trying to overturn a duly contested election that has been reviewed, recounted and pronounced sound repeatedly by election officials of both parties across the land (and even by the chief executive’s own Department of Justice).

Here is the dark portent of all this insanity: Our democracy depends on a functional two-party system, heaving to ‘n fro, keeping each other in check, sometimes highly contentiously. And right now, the Republicans are not holding up their end.

The staggering absurdity and willful disregard of truth in this effort has created such a poisoned, chaotic atmosphere that the chief’s own conspiracy-spewing attorneys have been in Georgia ahead of him this week, citing the supposedly fraudulent election as a reason to urge party members not to vote at all in the runoff elections for two Senate seats in January, even as the chief headed there last night to implore just the opposite.

In the five weekdays from November 30 through December 4, the chief sent 146 missives out to the world via Twitter, his favorite public medium. Fully 126 of them were about his disproven claims of a stolen election, that he is the victim of an unprecedented fraud involving a dizzying cast of characters from around the world, including many of his own ardent backers. All of it occurring under the nose of his own administration and many state election commissions run by his own party.

This while the incumbent senators in Georgia call for the resignation of their own party’s secretary of state for not advancing the chief’s conspiracy fantasies.

And while the attorneys who are telling party members to sit out the election suggest that both the secretary of state and Republican governor, ardent, years-long defenders of the chief, were bribed (bribed!!) to oversee the fraudulent election activity that resulted in his defeat.

AND, most egregiously, all this occurred in a week when the pandemic he has tried strenuously to call a trifle was raging across the country he is supposed to be leading, claiming the lives of more than 2,000 Americans daily, with record numbers of new cases.

Exactly two of the chief’s 146 tweets were about it: one to repeat his frequent claim that “China lied” in the pandemic’s early days, the other to behold the forthcoming vaccines as a “modern day miracle” made possible by his administration.

Oh, how I wish I were making all this up.

***

***

All that is missing so far is the violence, which, with a wink and a nod, the chief could likely unleash, restrained for the moment not by moral concerns (there are none, there have never been any…) but only practical ones. If he could (succeed in voiding the election via willing generals or ardent, lethally armed militias), he would. May he yet decide to try?

Of course he may. Surely we have all learned by now that no malevolent action is beyond possibility. Hasn’t he shown us every step of the way that nothing is?

Item: his first national security adviser, convicted and sentenced to jail for lying to the FBI but recently pardoned by the chief, retweets a post from a conservative citizens group that calls for the chief to declare “limited martial law” for the purpose of nullifying the entire election—then have the military conduct a new one.

Nullifying. An. Election.

One of the chief’s recent nominees to become an assistant secretary of defense has advocated the same.

Another: One of the chief’s attorneys called last week for the administration’s cybersecurity director to be executed in the town square. The director is a lifelong Republican whom the chief fired last week after the director reported, as was his duty, that the elections were legitimate and free of fraud.

This call for violence compelled a Georgia election official, also a lifelong Republican, to issue a strongly worded rebuke, bathed in righteous anger, like an Old Testament prophet:

“It has to stop. Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show something. My boss, Secretary Raffensperger, his address is out there. They have people doing caravans in front of their house. They’ve had people come on to their property. Tricia, his wife of 40 years, is getting sexualized threats through her cell phone. It has to stop. This is elections. This is the backbone of democracy. And all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this…Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed. And it’s not right. It’s not right. . . .“

The next night, the election official appears on the PBS News Hour, states that he voted for the chief, and proclaims:

“I am a Republican. I will vote for those two senators, because I think it’s important for the Republicans to control the United States Senate moving forward. But the president is in a position of responsibility. He needs to take some.”

So: dangerous rhetoric abides that could get people killed. Rather than tamping it down, both the chief and the state’s two Senate candidates amp it up, heaping disdain and charges of accepting criminal bribes on the Republican officials who oversaw the November election and will be doing so again for the Senate runoffs.

And this righteous official, almost red with rage at the chief and senators who continue to fan the flames of hatred and bile with false claims of fraud, betrayal and criminal activity, says he will vote for them again.

Because “it’s important” that people like them—who are calling for his and the governor’s dismissal and for nullifying an election—control the United States Senate.

Sir, to put it as charitably as possible: “You are a huge part of the problem.”

Talk about indignation ringing hollow…

***

Because here is the thing: the would-be tyrant could not do it alone. No one ever does. He needs henchmen, co-conspirators, sycophants, lackeys, and those willing simply to look the other way.

Which begets perhaps the most tragic and damaging question percolating under the chief’s entire reign of incompetence, indignity and terror: “What on earth has become of the Republican Party?”

When did the intellectual and moral rot that is now at the very center of its existence begin?  There was a time when it put forth a coherent worldview built on the principles of low taxes, limited government, strong defense, business friendliness and individual liberty.

Whether you agreed or not with these philosophical foundations and how they were put into practice, Republican politicians promoted them via the basic protocols of democracy, in general good faith and respect for the institutions that had helped build that democracy into the pre-eminent economic and military power in the world.

Today, the party has largely circled the wagons around the attempted larceny of an exhaustively reviewed election that mostly went their way in key Senate and House races, but which deposed an unprecedentedly reviled candidate who inspired a record turnout not only among the opposition party, but among independents and legions of ex-Republicans who can no longer stomach what has become of their former political home.

A “Washington Post” survey of the entire Republican congressional delegation through Friday revealed that only 12 of 52 Republican senators and 15 of 220 House members have publicly acknowledged Joe Biden’s win, despite the cascade of state-certified election results that have officially sealed his victory. The chief’s response to the story, with slightly fuzzy math:

“25, wow! I am surprised there are so many. We have just begun to fight. Please send me a list of the 25 RINOS.”

“RINOS” being the acronym for “Republicans in Name Only,” which in the chief’s estimation includes these sitting Republican governors:

***

All of us throw the term “insanity” around with impunity in everyday life, so forgive me here, but how else are we to describe the crazed messages (and messengers—Oh, the pathos of Rudy Giuliani…) and eating of their own that we have seen in the Republican Party’s flailing of recent weeks?

It’s as if the party has a death wish, saying good-bye to even a semblance of rationality and doing the right thing as it draws an ever tighter circle around a cultish, know-nothing identity, scorning science, civility and reality itself in a desperate attempt to hold onto power.

The chief last night had this to say about the opponent and party that vanquished him:

“Very simply, you will decide whether your children will grow up in a socialist country or whether they will grow up in a free country. And I will tell you this, uh, socialist is just the beginning for these people. These people wanna go further than socialism. They wanna go into a communistic form of government.”

Right. Joe Biden: Communist.

What are we even to do with such rhetoric?

Here is the dark portent of all this insanity: Our democracy depends on a functional two-party system, heaving to ‘n fro, keeping each other in check, sometimes highly contentiously. And right now, the Republicans are not holding up their end.

Rather, almost their entire legislative corps is showing itself as craven and kowtowing to their clearly deranged leader, while other Republicans with a spine and a sense of what is at stake are partyless and adrift, most all of them having voted for Biden but unable to declare themselves Democrats.

I feel your pain, Jeff Flake, Mitt Romney, the Never Trumpers, the Lincoln Project, the Bushes, David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, Bill Kristol, George Will, Mona Charen, et al. And I have no sage advice on what you should do.

The great danger now is that the tyrant will retain and even expand his power as titular leader of the party for the next four years, leaving all its legislators, with just a few exceptions, beholden to him and his hold on the voting masses.

And in 2024, assuming physical health, he would no doubt run again, with the real possibility he could emerge triumphant. With unimaginable consequences of which we know only this: it would ruin us as a country, if we have not suffered irreparable ruin already.

I only wish the above was hyperbole.

The fact that it’s not leaves me deeply troubled and none too confident our democracy will regain enough of its footing over the next four years to prevent further erosion.

So we will end here with the late English Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

“Optimism is the belief that things are going to get better. Hope is the belief that we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope is an active one. It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it does need courage to hope.”

There is a certain solace in those words, allowing me to reclaim hope as a constant. But it’s going to take a whole lot of “we” to “make things better,” and it is going to have to include a whole lot of Republicans, finding their courage and reclaiming their good sense.

Not in order to become Democrats, but to become real Republicans, rather than the aberrant schism we have beheld through these dark recent years.

And on that score, optimism, I’m afraid, will remain a monumental challenge.

***

***

Check out this blog’s public page on Facebook for 1-minute snippets of wisdom and other musings from the world’s great thinkers and artists, accompanied by lovely photography.
http://www.facebook.com/TraversingBlog

Deep appreciation to the photographers! Unless otherwise stated, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing.

Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at top of page.
 https://www.flickr.com/photos/lizhaslam/

Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact: larry@rosefoto.com

Man on train tracks by Gabriel, Chile  https://unsplash.com/@natural

Statue of Liberty by Martin Jernberg, Denver, Colorado  https://unsplash.com/@martinjernberg

Storm by Arūnas Naujokas, Klaipėda, Lithuania  https://unsplash.com/@new_memel_photography

Stone sculpture photo by Andrew Hidas https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewhidas/

12 comments to Joe Biden Won! So Why Do I Feel So Bad?

  • Rasik K Bhula  says:

    You have a great mind, which could serve a greater purpose especially if you were to provide an example by inspiring your “fans” to be their best selves, living for the sake of others is the only answer and that starts with you and me first . As Gandhi said …Be the change that you want to see …” or as Jesus said..”lets take the log out of our own eyes before trying to take the speck out of our brothers.’
    The final revolution is the one from selfishness to self-lessness. Political leaders are just a reflection of “us”..the best and the worst, so lets pray for forgiveness and unity ….Lotsa blessing to you

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Thanks, Rasik, I’m glad you wrote. This is an issue I think long and hard about every time I do a political post, I assure you. I don’t know how long you’ve been stopping in here, but if you’ve been reading for a while you might notice that I frequently—and preferably—write about religion, music, books, poetry, fiction, and other topics I believe inspire readers “to be their best selves,” as you say. I actually started out not writing about politics at all, but 2016 changed an awful lot in this world we are charged with making sense of and working out our salvation in, such as it is.

      I would only note to you that the examples you cite—Jesus and Gandhi—did a whole lot of inspirational work and calling forth people’s better selves, and I salute and take my own inspiration from them and others, as it seems you do, too. But the Sermon on the Mount wasn’t the only mode Jesus operated in. He also raged at the moneylenders and upended their tables in the temple, and Gandhi, for all his non-violence, said a caustic and enraged thing or two about the British overlords, and acted upon his beliefs not always in a state of equanimity. Ditto for MLK. And don’t even get me started on the OT prophets.

      In the end, I think that “being the change you want to see” sometimes requires strong words, so long as they are clear-eyed and born of convictions from one’s best self, as far as one can see and express it. In humility, to be sure, and understanding that one never completely removes the beam from one’s own eye, which I consider all the time but will surely fall short of the rest of my life. Human, all too human!

      And lotsa blessing right back to you; I appreciate you sharing these thoughts.

  • Al  says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Yes, there’s a current of existential desperation now among Republicans, survival at any cost. And much of our populace has been exposed as extremely gullible. It is perhaps the product of mostly white males losing power and doing all they can to maintain it. In the long run I suspect it is a losing battle. In the short run I fear more damage to our democracy lies ahead.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Al, the way those down-ballot races went in a year with an existential threat to the country’s very identity at the top of the ticket, I’m feeling a bit of existential desperation myself, I must say! I think white males losing power certainly explains some of the resistance to the bigger tent that Democrats espouse, but not all of it. Seems to me Republicans are much better at keeping their messaging simple and consistent, while Dems are all over the map. Examples would be vague calls for compassion on the border without ever enunciating a coherent border policy, or advancing confounding and unfortunate slogans like “Defund the police.” White males, unfortunately, aren’t the only ones not resonating to that poor messaging.

      And Bernie didn’t do them any favors by going deep into consecutive campaigns as he did under a “socialist” banner, which will always be exploited and used as a hammer against them, no matter how much ‘splainin’ they try to do about the “democratic” part of it. The Democrats” loss of the working class remains a tragedy, really, compounded all the more by how little the Republicans actually do for them. But perception is (almost) everything, and Dems need to seriously up their game to foster perceptions that help more of them get elected.

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    In the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp hugged Trump like an adoring child. He ran on a state spending cap, opposed Medicaid expansion, implemented the strictest abortion laws in the country, railed against the Affordable Care Act, supported the elimination of the law’s protecting pre-existing condition, stated his desire to sign a religious freedom and restoration bill, disapproved of contraception to women or services to LGBT couples on the basis of religious beliefs, made threats of kidnapping illegal immigrants, and signed off on pro-gun ads that made light of his shooting a young man interested in dating one of his daughters. He was Trump’s poster child. Trump even tweeted after his victory over Stacy Abrams, “Congratulations to Brian Kemp on becoming the new governor of Georgia. Brian was unrelenting and will become a great Governor for the Wonderful People of Georgia!”

    Two years later, Trump tweeted, “Why won’t Kemp, the hapless Governor of Georgia, use his emergency powers, which can be easily done, to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State and do a match of signatures on envelopes. It will be a ‘goldmine’ of fraud, and we will easily Win the state… They had electoral officials making deals like this character in Georgia who is a disaster. And the Governor’s done nothing. He’s done absolutely nothing. I’m ashamed that I endorsed him.”

    I guess Governor Brain Kemp, a throwback to a “People’s Temple” cultist, didn’t drink enough of President Trump’s “Jim Jones’ Kool-aid.”

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Robert, your brief rundown here shows in great relief that loyalty for the would-be tyrant is an all-or-nothing affair, and it works only one way. The very second that someone won’t do his bidding—however immoral or even illegal—he turns on them. The fact he would unflinchingly do so to nearly undying sycophants like Kemp shows the tyrant in all his darkest colors. 43 days!!

  • Gerry Ausiello  says:

    Andrew,

    All of what you write is true, and potentially could occur. However, four years is a long time, and the next elections (2022 and 2024) will be determined by the successes (or failures) of the new President, and the Congress. If there is progress, the voters will be able to see it. Each compromise and legislative action that is positive will start reminding people of what it is like to be unified in purpose and goals. Biden and his party need to walk the talk as far as unifying the country, address the priorities, and come to the middle, and the Republicans need to start coming out in support of concerted action. A tall order, but we have no choice!

    Always the optimist,

    Gerry

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Good on ya, Gerry! I agree that Biden needs to work largely from the middle, which is his natural home anyway, emphasizing achievable goals and getting a few of the “easier” (hahhaha!) things accomplished (Covid progress, economic stability, infrastructure). Not that they’ll be easy as such, but they’ll at least have a shot at bringing a few Republicans along, which he will desperately need just from a numbers standpoint if the Repubs prevail in Georgia next month, but which he will also need from a more political-moral standpoint if he wants to credibly claim he’s president of the whole country.

      McConnell’s power to set the legislative agenda aside, here are my picks for the most powerful members of Congress through at least 2022: Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski.

  • Jeanette Millard  says:

    I could tell how worn down I am, as I read your post and thought to myself, “Just stop focusing on the crazy stuff and let yourself feel hopeful!” I admit to having shut it all out, for now, after 4+ years of hyper/fearful vigilance. I can’t keep up with reacting to all of the lunacy at this moment. One of the founders of Partners in Health (for whom I now work as a contact tracer) said in a forum recently, and not for the first time, “Remaining hopeful is a moral choice.” I am working on it, and have never had to work on it so hard. Paying attention to the crazy antics of the resistance (“We are the forward wave; THEY are the resistance,” Michelle Alexander.) is too much for me. Let’s look homeward: People are behaving badly right in their own families. The Covid cases are pouring in from Thanksgiving, when everyone decided the rules don’t apply to them. Can you tell I am ragged? Yes! And also hopeful! But not because I am counting injuries still being caused by the depraved people who must loosen their grasp on power in 6 weeks. Write postcards to Georgia, send money to help win the Senate races in Georgia: https://www.fastcompany.com/90572782/how-to-donate-to-the-georgia-senate-runoff-election-7-ways-to-help-the-races-before-january.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Oooooh, do I feel your exhaustion, Jeanette. I wrote this post having to fight the urge every step of the way to just abandon it and instead cover my ears and eyes and go fetal till January 20. I’m tellin’ ya, these are the times when it might be useful to be a much more serious drinker than I am…

      Funny you should mention your associate citing the moral dimension of hope—caused me to go back almost exactly four years, in the immediate aftermath of the previous earth-shaking election, an informative revisit for me, maybe will be for you too, and meanwhile, hang in there! http://andrewhidas.com/the-moral-imperative-of-hope/

      • Jeanette Millard  says:

        That was a wonderful read, Andrew!! And the “Hold On” – so powerfully and intimately sung. I feel much better today, and tonight. Thank you.

  • Kevin Feldman  says:

    Thanks Andrew, another post that really nails it. Much to be concerned with as Trump continues to flail at his crazed attempt at a slow moving coup.
    Fortunately some saner heads at the local level in the GOP along with our judicial system is ensuring that none of this will work. What really worries me is how many crazy gun toting proud boys etc. will be emboldened by his ranting to commit serious acts of violence while the cowardly Republicans in Congress sit on their hands out of fear of losing the Trumpian base.

    Appreciated you mentioning your post election blog post of four years ago which I went back and read finding it timely indeed, and like Jeanette, loved hearing the version of Hold On.

Leave a Reply