Watching the farce that was the presidential debate last month was depressing and outrageous. The contrast could not be more clear. On one side, a hectoring bully who continually talked over his opponent with self-serving lies and evasions. On the other, a decent man with points of real substance to make trying to get a word in edgewise.
Haven't we had enough? Mr Trump's erratic behavior and arrogant unwillingness to cooperate have lost us the respect of our international allies, while he has cozied up to dictators. His policies have favored short-term economic development over the preservation of the environment, denying the climate change that is burning up the west and devastating the coasts with ever-greater storms. His response to the COVID crisis has been chaotic and full of denial. His so-called economic boom has enriched the wealthy and the stock market while cutting benefits and programs for everyone else. He has weakened the government institutions that have made us the envy of the world – the Justice Department, Foreign Affairs, the intelligence community, the regulatory agencies, now the CDC, and even the Post Office, for heaven's sake. Any institution he cannot bend to his selfish purposes, he undermines.
Healthy criticism is the backbone of American democracy. Mr Trump's knee-jerk reaction to any criticism is to make up self-serving justifications, bombard us with falsehoods, and call people names. His self-aggrandizement and scorn have poisoned the political atmosphere of this country. Some of his supporters say that they don't like his behavior, but like his policies. I only wish that we COULD have a real debate about gun violence, Roe v. Wade, and the rural/urban divide. But if they think he has their welfare, their health, or their values at heart, they are mistaken. Mr Trump (aided by Fox News and a sadly toadying Republican Party) whips up fear and rage to avert attention from the real economic and social damage his policies are doing to working class and rural America. His only concern is and always has been for his own ego, power, and “brand.” In pursuit of that power he is even threatening the integrity of our electoral system. Have we really come to the point in this country when a President will not concede, even in theory, an electoral loss? Can we really let him get away with that?
Mr. Biden, on the other hand, is a lifelong public servant who has lived his family values and worked tirelessly across the aisle to pass legislation such as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the Violence Against Women Act. He has a deep and rich understanding of how to make government work and how to put the common good over partisan politics. He is articulate and thoughtful, and he cares about other people. Under Mr. Biden, we have the chance to turn away from the Trump politics of fear and embrace the America of our better angels – the land of opportunity that welcomes hard-working immigrants, that embraces the diversity that makes us stronger, that takes care of the disadvantaged, that works to make education, job security, health and upward mobility equally available to all, that that protects us from private interests that try to game the system, and that stands for human rights and freedom from oppression.
We all have an investment in the public good – the education of the next generations, our health and that of the environment that sustains us, our long-term economic viability, our contribution and leadership in the international community, the continuing pursuit of equity and fairness in our own society. A vote for Mr. Biden is a vote to put these things in the foreground again. Let's kick the bully off the stage and get back to the real work of being America.
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