“Well, that was some weird shit.” – President George W. Bush to Hillary Clinton following Donald Trump’s inauguration speech, 2016
Yeah, that it was George.
And then it got a whole lot worse from there.
I don’t need to run down the laundry list of corruption, cruelty and disasters that happened over the last four years. We all lived through it, well all of us minus roughly four hundred thousand of us. We experienced four years that felt like, what…ten? But more than that, at every level, from the imprints Donald Trump has left on the psyche of this country to our relationships around the globe to his very real packing of the courts from the Supreme Court on down, we’re going to be dealing with the ramifications of the past four years for years and even decades to come.
Four years ago today, in my article entitled, “Mourning in America“, I wrote. “Today the least qualified man to ever become President of the United States is taking the oath of office, bringing with him a VP with monstrous social record against women and the LGBTQ community, and a cabinet full of plutocrats, unqualified cronies and people who are outright hostile to the mission of the office they are seeking to inhabit.”
I wasn’t exactly brimming with optimism for this administration when they took office and yet somehow they managed to be far worse than I could have ever imagined. The parade of monsters and charlatans that somehow became a part of our lives during this time seems almost inconceivable. From Spicer to DeVos to Giuliani to Miller to Bannon to the President’s own corrupt family and numerous other vile cretins, I wouldn’t invite these people to dinner, let alone invite them to run a country. And if they did show up for dinner, I’d be sure to count the silverware when they left.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. wasn’t my first choice for the Democratic nomination. In a crowded field of talented, passionate, progressive and many cases, younger candidates, Joe Biden looked like the same old hamburger that you’ve seen on the menu for years. You’ve had it before and its good but it doesn’t excite you. Don’t get me wrong, I had great respect for the man, but Elizabeth Warren, now she inspired me. But here’s the thing, sometimes what you think you want and what you actually need are two very different things and Joe Biden turned out to be what the country needed at this time.
The South Carolina primary arrived and the true backbone of the Democratic party, black women, had had enough. They didn’t want the flavor of the month. They were voting for the man they knew and trusted, Joe Biden. South Carolina was the turning point for his campaign and the kid from Scranton never looked back. He secured the nomination handily and made history by selecting a talented woman of color as his running mate. The Joe Biden – Kamala Harris ticket was off to the races. In spite of a global pandemic, the country turned out in historically huge numbers to unseat the monster that was inhabiting the White House.
So as we inaugurate the 46th President of the United States today, this all begs the question, where do we go from here?
To quote President Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan, Forward. It’s the only possible way to go. We need to pick ourselves up as a collective country, dust ourselves off and begin to rebuild a country that is damaged physically and emotionally. If the past four years have shown us anything, it’s that we have a lot of work of to do. A LOT. Soon to be President Biden’s day one Executive Orders which include a halt to the border wall construction and to the Keystone XL pipeline, the end of the Muslim travel ban, extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and deferrals on student loan payments as well as rejoining the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Agreement are all steps in the right direction.
But at this moment in time, with a nation still effectively paralyzed by Covid-19 and with the economy in shambles as a result, where we are right now calls for bold leadership and a bold vision for where America is going to go from here. If we want to finally achieve becoming the “shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere” we like to think that we are but have never truly achieved, we need to make massive changes to who we are as a people and how we do business as a country. For better or for worse, the past four years has shown that the world needs the United States to lead on the world stage. Isolationism didn’t work prior to World War Two and it hasn’t worked now. At noon today, the President of the United States will reclaim the mantle of the leader of the free world, a position abdicated by predecessor.
While the time is long past to guarantee universal health care for all our citizens, the medical infrastructure is so vast and so gunked up, that it just simply can’t happen quickly but I support President Biden’s plan for expanding Obamacare with a Public Option. The past ten months have shown the importance of healthcare more than ever and the possibility of expanding the availability of healthcare to as many people as possible needs to be the priority at the moment. As a starting point, it would be both a symbolic and very practical idea that would help a tremendous amount of people and put us one step further on the long overdue path to universal healthcare.
The day doesn’t call for small thinking. The moment calls for strong leadership. In his work Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare wrote “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”. Neither Joe Biden nor Kamala Harris were born great per se. They weren’t born into great wealth or power. They don’t carry the surname Rockefeller, Carnegie or Vanderbilt. They’re not products of the Ivy League, but rather, more modestly, the University of Delaware and Howard University. And yet, in this critical juncture of our history, they are who we are counting on to save the day. The chance for greatness is being thrust upon them and for the sake of our country, I hope they’re up to the task.
We have been wandering aimlessly, succumbing to our lesser demons for far too long. The stain of racism and the original sin of slavery still eats away at the core of this nation. We need to drive these broken people back into the darkness they once occupied before President Trump emboldened them to emerge from the shadows with his hateful rhetoric. The only true vaccine for hatred and racism is education and action, a refusal to accept casual racism in every day life. If you don’t want another demagogue like Trump to emerge, its no longer enough to not be racist. We, as a society, need to be actively anti-racist in order to stamp it out.
The task in front of us is vast but so is the opportunity to rebuild this country into something better, a beacon of hope and opportunity to the world. Mr. President, Madam Vice President, I wish you nothing but luck. Our nation has literally turned its lonely eyes to you. It’s morning in America once again. I pray we can get it right finally.
*The opinions represented in this article are mine only and do not necessarily represent those of the staff of WERRRK.com