For five years, I wrote a lot about the most recent former president of the United States. I haven’t yet commented on the man who defeated him, Joe Biden. I’ve had reasons.
Biden, the anti-blowhard, doesn’t seek attention. Measured and self-effacing, he makes no claim to being the man on the white horse. He focuses on policy rather than self-aggrandizement
The Covid relief bill he sought passed Wednesday. Imperfect? Maybe. But it takes a major step towards helping struggling families and individuals, small businesses, and state and local governments. When convenient, Republicans will scream, “Waste!” Tens of millions of Americans will whisper, “Thanks.”
Carolyn and I hope stimulus payments bypass us. (At least, checks won’t bear Biden’s name.) We don’t need assistance. Last year, our stimulus money went straight to favorite charities.
Looking ahead, Biden must navigate between Democratic progressives and congressional Republicans, almost all focused far-rightward to secure financial support and prevent being primaried.
Solutions to many of the nation’s problems may be impossible to achieve unless the Republican Party implodes. Could happen. The former president recently filed injunctions to keep leading Republican fundraising organizations from using his name and image without permission. Such permission likely won’t be forthcoming. The former president wants cash to flow into his political action committee, so he can control the conservative movement.
That movement may be financially sound to date but remains morally bankrupt. Tuesday, political commentator Rod Brownstein wrote on CNN.com, “The Republican Party’s inability to ignite a grassroots backlash against the $1.9 trillion Democratic Covid relief bill moving toward final passage underscores the GOP’s transformation into a coalition energized primarily by cultural and racial grievance.”
Brownstein also reported Daniel Cox, a research fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, stating, “Traditional conservative principles, whether it’s commitment to a strong national defense or support for limited government, do not animate Republican voters.” Culture war is all.
Discussions of issues can be impassioned yet also rational. Opponents can take coherent positions, provide room for give and take, adopt reasonable approaches to vexing problems. Democrats hardly have all the answers, including those relating to the challenges of immigration for which a national discussion remains long overdue.
Alas, Republican leadership makes no pretense of engaging in debate. It responds to every Democratic initiative—as to those of Barack Obama—with a knee-jerk “No!” The Times’ Paul Krugman wrote that “the very popularity of infrastructure spending will stiffen their [Republicans’] opposition, because what they want, above all, is to make the Biden administration a failure.”
If red states suppress the vote—which means suppressing minorities and the poor to reduce votes for Democrats—Joe Biden’s attempts to rally more public support for his programs, including labor rights and infrastructure, may be thwarted. The far-right minority will tyrannize the majority.
We’ll see how things play out. But I take heart that Biden is issue-focused, hosts an open tent and, despite occasional verbal gaffes, doesn’t run his mouth to the detriment of all the best for which America stands.
Here’s the deal: Biden’s not just another Joe and certainly not anyone’s Donald. Yesterday on TV, he offered the empathy and hope American Joes—and Janes—need more than ever. That’s something to write about with joy.
Read my short-short story, “The Signature,” published online in Flash Fiction Magazine.
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