Most of us can agree that we have elected a new U.S. President: Joe Biden and his VP Kamala Harris will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. Still, over 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump, the second most votes won by a presidential candidate. That is a huge number of my fellow citizens lending support to a man who failed us in so many ways.
I thought Biden would win in a blow-out; he received 74 million votes. I thought all the newly registered voters would support the Democratic ticket, and Trump would have to admit the depth of his failure. But this nail-biter election taught me something, again, that I already knew: people will vote against their own self interest. Why? Fear.
The Trump voters I spoke to this last week told me they didn’t especially appreciate all the antics and tweets and chaos of the last four years. But they were afraid to cast a ballot for Biden. They were afraid they would lose their guns. They were afraid they’d have to be vaccinated; no doubt there would be a mind-control chip inserted at the same time. They were afraid their taxes would go up. They were afraid America would become a Socialist country. And then Q was telling them the Democrats were running a child torture and pornography ring.
Democrats expressed fears too: they were afraid four more years of Trump would mean no organized campaign to moderate the COVID pandemic, so the economy couldn’t recover. They were afraid they would lose their ACA health care and protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions (like surviving COVID). They were afraid all the rollbacks of regulations would accelerate climate change. They were afraid Trump’s incompetence on the international stage would forever damage our strength as a world power. They were afraid Trump would involve us in a nuclear confrontation.
We are a divided nation, but it seems we all have fears. Maybe this is how we can come together--by sharing our concerns and working together to solve some of these problems. First off, I think it’s important for all of us to refer to news outlets that accurately report and source their output. If you allow bloggers or FaceBook celebrities or random tweets to control your understanding of the world, how can you responsibly make any decisions? Why should anyone pay attention to Q’s conspiracy theories? Just stop. It’s a fear-mongering and even prurient approach to reality. The concepts of “fake news” and “alternative facts” have done so much harm to our public discourse. How can we intelligently discuss anything if we can’t even agree on the facts? More often than not, my interactions with Trump voters end with, “I guess you listen to an alternative news source.” End of discussion.
To address the fears: as I’ve told my Republican voting friends, you won’t lose your guns under a Democratic administration--gun ownership actually increased under Obama-Biden. No one can force you to become vaccinated. Biden plans to introduce a new tax bill declaring that no one making under $400K will have their taxes raised. I don’t talk to many folks who make more than $400K annually. And interestingly, under Trump’s existing tax plan, the lower and middle class tax bills will start rising next year until all taxpayers making under $100K will see higher taxes by 2027 than before Trump’s plan took effect. Check it out in the New York Times article by Joseph E. Stieglitz, “Republicans, Not Biden, Are About to Raise your Taxes, 10/31/20.
And then there’s Socialism, the Republican boogey-man. As Biden likes to say, ‘I’m not a Socialist I defeated the “Socialist” [Bernie Sanders] in the Primary.” Don’t confuse Socialism with social programs.
In America, we have long enjoyed the security of social programs designed to provide a safety net for our citizens. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the most popular, but there are many other programs that help house and feed and educate our most vulnerable citizens. Democrats aren’t talking about seizing private businesses, as in 1960s Cuba, “returning all means of production to the state.” Democrats just believe, as Paul Wellstone put it, “We all do better when we all do better.”
One of the most hurtful consequences of the last four years under Trump is the accelerated erosion of our trust in our government and many of our cherished institutions. As he learned from Putin, you don’t need any proof or facts. All you need to do to erode the trust is to create doubt: to cast a president as illegitimate through “birtherism,” to insult and discount the professionals in our Intelligence agencies and the Justice Department, to alter reports from pandemic scientists, to refuse legally submitted subpoenas, to lambaste our Fifth Estate. Please, let’s turn away from conspiracy sensationalism and ALL CAPS tweets, and return to education, trust and responsible discourse.
Most of the fears expressed by Democratic voters will be resolved once Biden is inaugurated and he begins his work to repair our fractured society. As Kamala Harris said in her Saturday night speech: “Now is when the real work begins, the hard work, the necessary work, the good work, the essential work, to save lives and beat this pandemic, to rebuild our economy ... to root out systemic racism ... to combat the climate crisis ... to unite our country and heal the soul of this nation.”
That’s a tall order, so let’s get to work. “There are very fine people on both sides.”