The election of Joe Biden and Kamela Harris is a beginning, not a conclusion. Mitch McConnell continues to have his boot on the neck of America’s best interests, and the millions who voted their fear and loathing will not suddenly morph into a benignly acquiescent citizenry.
While I haven’t blogged in some time as all of the mental bandwidth that age has left me has been consumed with OCDing over the presidential election campaign, voting, and now the aftermath math, I want to re-enter with three observations and a call to action.
Three mirages (voter participation, rebuilding trust, the blue wave)
First, The enormous increase in voter participation in this contest will not last. It is a mirage– a sprint for most. Apathy is America’s traditional default or basal state or basalt foundation (which is sometimes a good thing, constraining instability). But for those who wish change, it is the beginning of a marathon. State houses, governorships, the Congress require continuous effort to convince voters at the most local levels that progressive policies make their lives better, safer, happier. Feelings count as much as if not more than pure facts.
Second, building trust is not “rebuilding trust.” Rebuilding trust is a mirage. Whatever trust existed in the past was eroded over decades and was never an American virtue to begin with. Melville’s Confidence Man preyed upon the one well of trust resident in American individualism, trusting in the mirage of success without understanding, work or cooperation with others. But the billionaires into whose lives we get a glimpse seem to be people who do not play well with others, believe fairness is for suckers, and think that the only future is their personal and immediate life span. Someday, I will contrast the immigrant billionaires like Carnegie with the homegrown variety.
Third, the census will concretize progressive failures at the local level for half a generation. Budgets, political clout and collaboration are the victims of the losses at the local level. The re-emergence and continuance of weasels, worms and zombies in political office has been more than disappointing after the blue wave of 2018 washed so much of that garbage away. But the reshaping of the map for the next decade has a more lasting effect than elections that have a two-,four-, or six- year cycle.
What to DO? The Ineluctable Modality of the Visible
Keep visible. Trump was a master of hogging media through a reality TV approach. Biden and Harris need to continually maintain a visible presence. The Trumpeting of fear and distrust played well because the news media are no longer news media but ratings-driven maggots (oops, I mean magnets). What will be an equally effective but inversely affective approach. Weekly fireside chats, town halls or equivalent by Biden and Harris. Corona virus updates. A weekly progress report on the actions and deliberations important to Americans.
What to Do? The Ineluctable Modality of the Personal
Keep trying. Keep it human. Convene very publicly an opportunity for senators and representatives from both parties to meet. Ground rules—no name calling or ad hominem attacks. No yelling. End with handshakes like opposing sports teams to demonstrate collegial disagreement is possible. Joe and Kamala: Be There. Be fair. Be strong. A press secretary is a fault not a default.
The Ineluctability of Emergency
Respond to disinformation. Provide New Information. The news cannot be counted on to inform. Borrow Katie Porter’s white board. Prosecute obstructionism and the guilty. Praise and thank those who respond well. Maintain a rabid response presence.