When I was in third grade, Mrs. Heller told me I needed to grow an “elephant” skin because I cried when someone said something mean to me. So it was ironic to be an opinion writer in the time of Trump. I’m thinking of the reader who took the time to write to say that I was ugly and probably had no friends. She got all that from my political views. What can I say? It’s been an interesting four years.
This is my last column before the election, and I don’t imagine I’ll change any minds this week, one way or the other, but I keep hoping I might. I spend my 750 words to offer one person’s considered views on this, the most critical election of our lifetime.
An opinion column doesn’t have to present both sides of an issue. For example, if we’re discussing separating babies from their parents at our southern borders, a straight news report might include details about the great numbers of migrants moving north and the difficulties faced by border agents. But as an opinion writer, my mind leaps to historical metaphors, to other crimes against children and families perpetrated by other governments wielding clubs rather than compassion in the face of human suffering. I recall that we Americans have a troubled past of separating Native American children from their families, and if the arc of justice bends toward enlightenment, then we must shudder at the images of infants and babies in cages in facilities run by the United States of America.
The news last week that some 545 children have never been reunited with their parents puts a pin in it for me. In his lingo, Donald J. Trump has sullied the American “brand.” From his first day in office, he shamed himself and our country in the eyes of the world. An easy and epic liar, he said what worked in the moment, truth be damned. At times he has seemed out of control, snapping and biting not only at his perceived enemies, but at the country’s own loyal and diligent public servants in the FBI and the CIA and the CDC and all the other agencies that have kept us safe through the years.
There are two tracks to follow: what Trump says and what he does. They are often not the same, which has contributed to the chaos within his administration and frankly, within us. He promised to clean up politics in Washington, and proceeded to empower compromised and sometimes corrupt deputies and lackeys. He said he loved clean water and air, and proceeded to disembowel the Environmental Protection Agency and deregulate the industries that contribute to pollution.
He said that no one since Lincoln had been better for American Blacks than he has. But he turned his back on every single initiative to empower them, increase minority voting and acknowledge the injustices of decades of racism in this country. We know the list goes on of the discordance between what he says and what he does.
The catastrophic exception has been Covid-19. Early on, he said it was no big deal, and he followed through. He. Did. Nothing. There was no plan, no organizing of resources, no testing when we first needed it, and most important, no honest discussion with the American people about the deadly challenge ahead. What he said about the coronavirus in January and February was that it would go away.
Last week, as Joe Biden and the president stood at their respective lecterns for the last debate of the campaign, this nation was mourning the loss of more than 220,000 Americans who had died of the virus. Never in the history of this country has one president been so directly implicated in the massive death and suffering of our people. He has been inept in the face of pandemic, willfully misleading and woefully ignorant.
If Biden wins, he will get to work and do the job, and I trust he will bring together teams of our best and brightest to restore decency and competency to government. We need relief from this ongoing travesty. We need to reboot the great natural and political and personal resources that abide in this country. We need to lick our wounds and move on, with new leadership.
Vote early. Don’t give up on this country. Don’t give up on democracy. Let the best man win.
Copyright 2020 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.