Thursday, November 19, 2020

Waving the flag at Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn

Almost two weeks ago, we were walking down the street when a woman shrieked loudly from the window of a nearby brownstone in our Brooklyn neighborhood. My wife told me to check the news, convinced that something important had happened. People began applauding on the sidewalks, yelling, cheering, and passing cars began honking frantically. I checked my phone. The New York Times had announced that Biden was declared President by the Associated Press. It wasn’t just in Brooklyn. Joyful celebration had broken out in cities all over the country. Biden not only won the popular vote by 5 million, he had gathered enough electoral votes in Pennsylvania to render Trump the loser. A massive street party erupted around the arch at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. There were people cheering, dancing, musicians on drums and brass instruments, and the giddy communal joy you only see among strangers relieved of a shared burden. It felt as if a war was over.

Except that it wasn’t.

Although Biden’s win was confirmed by state ballot officials in all fifty states, our fearless leader refuses to acknowledge it. Donald Trump was brooding in the White House, refusing to concede, insisting by tweet that he won and hellbent on exerting his influence to turn reality in his favor. When he tried to claim victory at a White House press conference, the networks switched him off. His statements were incorrect, mistaken, and downright lies. He knew better and all sentient beings around him knew it, too. Well . . . perhaps that term, sentient, requires qualification. The majority of Republican lawmakers in DC didn’t acknowledge Biden’s win, and many of Trump’s supporters appear to believe that he won, too.

The effort by our liar-in-chief to make facts—especially the hard facts of a ballot count—ethereal and inconclusive has been a success at least among his ardent supporters and the enablers riding his coattails (that’s you, Mitch McConnell). Again, his toxic influence over the country for the last four years has attempted to destroy another pillar of democracy: the election.

Since that day, the newspapers and other news outlets report that President-elect Biden has been putting together his staff-members, and assembling initiatives to deal with the Coronavirus crisis, which, as of today, has killed at least a quarter of a million Americans (today it killed 1900 Americans in 24 hours). Two different vaccines have been developed, and the Biden administration wants to prepare for their distribution, but there’s an obstacle. The Trump administration will not concede that he has lost and refuses to let Biden’s team begin the transition by gaining access to vital information about Covid vaccination policies and protocols. You would think saving American lives would be important to the pro-life President, but apparently not.

What can be done when a President goes into hiding from the truth (and from his job), as this one has? Who can tell him to do his job and stop sulking? Aside from a few trips to play golf, Trump has occupied his time doing little but settling a few scores by firing people who disagreed with him. For a man who thrives on being seen in public appearances, the ‘daylight’ that the election delivered appears to be as toxic to him as it would be to a vampire. It has been suggested that he put on his “big boy pants” and concede, but what we have on our hands is a President who would rather litigate when the truth comes at him from fifty directions. So, that’s what he’s doing.

By the time these vaccines begin to reach the general public, it will likely be the spring of 2021, which means that Donald Trump’s unwillingness to deal with Covid-19 like a leader who heeds science and the advice of experienced professionals has cost every single American a year out of her or his life. A year of panic. A year of lost loved ones. A year of missed school and lost childhood and estrangement from friends, security, worry, economic crisis and cultural stagnation.

And now he refuses to leave.

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