We’ve now had the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention, and it’s pretty clear what is at stake: decency vs. indecency.
The Democratic National Convention
The DNC was basically selling Joe Biden as a nice guy, a human being, a mensch, someone with compassion. We also know Joe’s limitation: he’s not particularly inspiring. But there are a lot of things I like about Biden
- I like that he had to overcome stuttering as a young man.
- I like that he really does understand heartbreak, having lost his wife and daughter in a car accident just after becoming a Senator.
- I like that he found love again with Dr. Jill.
- And I know that he experienced heartbreak again when his son Beau died from cancer.
These things don’t necessarily qualify him to be President of course. They qualify him as a human being. There are other things that qualify him to be President, including his 36 years in the Senate and his 8 years as Vice President.
Biden wasn’t my first choice this year, but he is a very decent choice. His Presidency is likely to be kind of an Obama Presidency, Part II. And that would be plenty good enough for me.
We have to right the ship before we can turn it left.
The Republican National Convention
As many commentators have noted, the Republican National Convention took place in an alternate reality. Trying to humanize Donald Trump and make him seem like a competent, compassionate person who cares about our lives is problematic when we’ve had the chance to observe him for almost four years, and have had access to his Twitter feed.
This is man who, when the pandemic first hit, cared more about the television ratings for his daily briefing than he did about the American lives being lost.
Let me say that again: this is man who, when the pandemic first hit, cared more about the television ratings for his daily briefing than he did about the American lives being lost.
- By now we know all about his dog-whistle racism and that he only plays to his base and literally doesn’t care about the Americans who don’t support him.
- The people who’ve worked him the most closely almost uniformly describe him as a idiot who is too lazy to do his job.
- Our “law and order” President gave his acceptance speech on the White House lawn while flagrantly violating the Hatch Act.
- He doesn’t care about law and order. He only cares about the kind of disorder that can be blamed on on minorities and urbanites and other types of people that he does not like.
At some point in time an alternate reality becomes so extreme that even gullible people have a hard time swallowing it. We might be getting close to that inflection point right now.
It’s been pretty well established that there are two substantial groups of people who support Donald Trump (1) people who really like the policies he has implemented (especially deregulation and the appointment of conservative judges) and (2) those who love that he is the “FU” President, the President who hates the same people that they do. Trump “owns the liberals” (whatever the fuck that means); he is the personification of “grievance politics.”
The United States is probably the most divided it’s been since the civil war, and that division has been exacerbated by 25 years of Fox News and right wing talk radio (and now various Internet-outlets). And now by this malignant President.
Joe Biden would not take us back to any “radical” America. At most he would take us back to a centrist “normative” America, and potentially a bridge to something much more substantial. He isn’t Hillary Clinton — whom large swaths of Americans detested with a passion (for reasons that frankly still elude me) — and so he doesn’t engender the kind of antipathy that she did. But to paint him as some kind of “radical” who is going to dismember the suburbs is just laughable, and any thinking person knows that.
Michael Moore has emphasized that he sees a lot of enthusiasm for Trump in certain parts of the country. For the most part, these are the parts of the country where people love to hate the rest of us more than they love their own people. I don’t take this threat lightly. I realize that Donald Trump — who should have an approval rating in the single digits and should be facing an electoral college slaughter worse than Walter Mondale — could actually be re-elected.
My faith in this country has already been broken. But if that were to happen, whatever is left of my faith would be crushed to smithereens. And yet, it could happen.