Saturday, July 04, 2020

Race for the White House # 79

Today is an Independence Day like none other. The fireworks we hear may be coming more from people in their yards and on the street than towns holding big gatherings with professional pyrotechnics. America has been through a lot in the last four months between a pandemic and widespread discontent related both to that event and the longer term impact of societal injustice. Four months from today, we will wake up and Election Day will be over. Will we know who has won? Even if the outcome seems clear, it may take days or even weeks to count mail in ballots. It is unlikely there will be early concessions this cycle. Will there eventually be a concession at all?

For many, times seem tough right now, especially with the virus seeing new spikes in large parts of the country, and it feels a bit hard to celebrate and be patriotic. I hope though that we can keep the focus on the resilience of America which has always gotten us through tough times and will do so again, as we strive for a More Perfect Union.

We should be mindful of our history and not try to erase it, but history has a lot of sides. There are many statues and monuments which should remain and which require context and a larger story. As I have stated before though, others should go from places of reverence as they relate to the darkest chapters in our history.Extremes on both sides are trying to dive America on these cultural grounds. "Cancel culture" is a problem, but so is the divisive intent coming from the fledgling campaign of the incumbent President, who refuses to see any issue with Confederate monuments and who briefly but curiously Tweeted a video of a supporter yelling "White Power!" last Sunday. The Tweet came down soon enough but the message remained. For Trump, it's always about him and he will stand against anyone who criticizes him in anyway and with anyone, regardless of how troubled, who defends him. Maybe he heard the "white power" and did not care or maybe he was just too into his own ego to hear it at first listen.

Despite health risks, Trump has had a couple high profile gatherings to celebrate Independence Day. Last night, he appeared at Mt. Rushmore, which honors the legacy of four legendary American Presidents that Mr. Trump could never hope to replicate. Many in the media and on the left criticize him for this visit, beyond the virus factor, pointing out that there were ties to slavery for two of the Presidents, and that the original sculptor may have not been a great person, or that the monument is on Native American land. None of these things were ever said though when President Barack Obama or then Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visited the site. This double standard only outrages Trump supporters and leads to more polarization. They should not be the only ones who note the hypocrisy though.

So much of what we are dealing with seems contradictory. Trump is very intent on trying to divide a wedge in these speeches by saying the left is trying to erase history and denigrate our Founding Fathers. At the same time however, many Americans, especially those who may lean left, were spending their evening streaming "Hamilton" on Disney Plus. Go figure.

As the election grows closer, each passing week continues to bring bad headlines for Trump. One involving the concept of ignoring Russian bounties places on American troops on Afghanistan is perhaps as troubling about Trump as whatever he heard. Was he complicit or just tragically uninformed? We do not know for sure just how true the story is, but it definitely is something the Intelligence Community was talking about and that Trump should have heard. Did he? If not, why? It seems like perhaps his advisors were just afraid to tell him anything negative about Russia and Vladimir Putin.

This past week, Democrat Joe Biden held, sort of, his first press conference in months. As is typical, he rambled a bit and misspoke at times. His presentation is awkward and that is not something that will ever change as long as he is in public life. The claims though that he is demonstrating senility appear ridiculous though. This tactic is the hallmark of the effort to reelect Trump but seems futile. All that can really be said is that Biden is same frequent blowhard he has been since he was in his 30s. The newest thing is the claim that Biden is ready for an institution because he said on video, "I'm Joe Biden, Joe Biden's husband." No. The audio quality might have been bad, but he clearly said, "I'm Jill Biden's husband." Indeed he is. Trump may be the one who has trouble remembering the name of the woman he is currently married to.

As tough as times are this summer, I will continue to choose to be patriotic. America has always been great and always in need of being made better. That will not change. Next year at this time, I hope we will have a vaccine to eradicate the fear of this virus. I hope Major League Baseball and the rest of the sports world are back to operating the way they used to. I also hope we have a new President and maybe can go a few days here and there without seeing or hearing or needing to think about Donald Trump.

Most likely I will not like the policies and directions this new President will be taking the country even as I will be glad Trump is gone. That is where patriotism will need to be even more present throughout the nation because per our spectacular democratic traditions, there will be much to speak out against and try to stop or change.


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