Howling about Trump isn't enough

We must collect the scattered energies of the entire government and focus on climate change, the one genuinely existential threat the planet faces. Racism, plutocracy and the rest flow from that.

I knew the election couldn’t make everything right, but I hoped it might lower my anxiety enough to stop obsessing about politics all the time. That hasn’t happened yet.

I am decidedly pleased by the contrast between the incumbent and the president-elect. Plenty of fire-breathers are already complaining about too much “centrist” interest in the new administration, mainly worried (I think) that Joe Biden’s desire for comity will eclipse his genuinely good intentions. I can understand that, but I don’t share it.

It is hard not to howl at the moon and cry for blood after four years of Trumpsters attacking America and its best ideals. I understand and share those impulses. But but not every attack on Trump is a victory; not every accommodation is betrayal. I’m prepared to help Joe Biden practice his style of governance by decency and consensus, to work our way up from the Trumpian mudbaths and wait to tackle some of the specific, necessary changes later, after we’ve restored a national sense of purpose  and continuity.

Joe Biden isn’t an avenging angel. The president who follows him may well need to be, but right now we must work with what we have, to seize the opportunities surrounding a genuinely impressive electoral win and reaffirm some fundamental tenets of our democracy.

There is too much that needs immediate, urgent attention: a raging, deadly pandemic burning out of control; the planetary crisis of climate change; income inequality; systemic racism; a campaign system engulfed and drowned by dark money; a judiciary that has been corrupted by ideology; a Republican party whose explicit and implicit support of Trump over country has disqualified them from public trust. 

We have learned, contrary to popular rhetoric, that we are NOT all in this together. A glance at the statistics shows Covid-19 has killed vulnerable minorities, seniors, and institutionalized patients at hugely disproportionate rates. Tisk-tisking and pearl clutching have long since been obliterated by raw ambition and merciless self-interest; the idea of turning the other cheek feels like a quaint memory to me now.

Joe Biden’s initial cabinet selections have been terrific. Not perfect, certainly not all my first choices, but nonetheless a team of talented, proven administrators who can be relied upon to work toward the common good. Most importantly, to me, is that all seem selected and primed to collect the scattered energies of the entire government and focus on climate change, the one genuinely existential threat the planet faces. 

Destroying the dream of America would be an incalcuable loss to all humanity. Destroying the home planet’s ability to sustain humanity itself would be götterdämmerung.