Reason 50. He has contributed more than anyone else to the polarization of American society.
There are innumerable reasons, not merely 50, to vote the current occupant of the presidency out of office. The 50 I’m highlighting here will be presented in no particular order, but it occurs to me I may as well select an especially important one to begin. And this one is very important.
For many years, since long before he sought the presidency, DT has spewed divisive, racist, sexist rhetoric both privately and publicly. By continuing to do so after entering the White House, he has emboldened white supremacists and terrorists, giving aid and comfort to the sort of people who used to eschew antisocial words and actions for fear of opprobrium. It is immaterial whether he has done so with the express aim of fomenting acts of violence or merely because he believes it furthers his ends and doesn’t care about “collateral damage.” Either way, the effects have been alarming: more than a few people have died, while countless others are at grave risk, and millions live in fear on a daily basis. What matters is that he has deliberately exploited America’s dark side, fanning flames of hatred against various minority groups and women. He has reopened old wounds, taken advantage of ill-informed, undereducated segments of the population, stoked fear, blamed the most vulnerable among us, and then, when called on it, refused to take responsibility. This is the exact opposite of the behavior any nation has the right to expect of its head of state. It is intolerable, and considered alone, it is more than enough reason to vote for Joe Biden.
PROBLEMS VS. SYMPTOMS
For four years, I’ve been repeating myself that DT is not the main problem but merely its most visible symptom. I still believe that; after all, if it takes a village to raise a child, it surely takes more than one person to destroy a civilization. DT has a veritable army of enablers behind him, ranging from the maskless, spittle-spraying mobs that flock to his rallies to nearly every Republican member of the House and Senate. If DT were to vanish tomorrow—let’s say taken by extraterrestrials and whisked away to some lonely black hole—that army would remain, jockeying for position and poised to enable the next vicious demagogue wily enough to win a primary or two.
Alien abduction is a rare thing, and it tends to produce sympathy for the abductee. The last thing this country needs is for DT to become a martyr. So let’s hope that he vanishes in a manner typical of ex-presidents: into a helicopter parked outside the White House on an especially beautiful day in January. Or, rather than just hoping, let’s work to make it happen.
What would be the aftermath? The schism that has torn the fabric of American society nearly in two wouldn’t be mended immediately or perhaps even at all, but there would be opportunities for healing that simply would not exist if the nation were subjected to another four years of this madness. With the hater in chief no longer in power, it would be possible to seek elements of common ground while repairing much of the damage done and moving forward with an agenda to save the nation and the planet. Of course, most of the Republicans in Congress would still try to impede progress, but they’d no longer have the executive branch on their side, providing cover for them, so if they wanted to affect the process at all, they’d have to come to the table and seek compromise. And what of the real wack jobs—the militia members and QAnon theorists and jackbooted thugs attacking peaceful protesters? They wouldn’t cease to exist, of course, but they might be rendered ineffectual if they were pushed back into the margins where they could be monitored closely and kept at arm’s length. This cannot happen while they have an apologist in the White House, let alone a cheerleader.
What if . . .
This is not about I told you so. I actually didn’t believe it would come to this. At odd moments I feared it, but I never really believed it. Nonetheless, I wonder . . .
We will never know how Bernie would have fared. We can spin the hypotheticals, crunch the pluses and minuses endlessly, but we’ll never really know. What we do know is this: Bernie didn’t just conduct a campaign; he led a movement that in several significant ways was parallel to the groundswell that carried the orange monster over the 270 mark. Sometimes centrism and incrementalism are not the safe choice. The Bernie phenomenon was unprecedented. If the Democratic party is to survive, let alone lead us out of the predicament we’re in, it must make a bold choice to embrace the future and stop clinging to its insistence on propping up the status quo.