The Biden Factor Part 2, The Soul of America

Who are we kidding?  We all know the very real problems we live with.  Everyday Americans have been suffering for years and continue to do so.  In search of a real change, they elected Trump and things only got worse for them. The issues of our times are clear and evident.  Many Americans continue jobless as others live with stagnant wages. Buying power decreases each year with the rising cost of living. Veterans are suffering on many fronts. Our privatized jails are maxed to capacity with low level offenders while police violence goes unchecked at every turn.  Anyone can buy a gun and use it for any purpose, consequently we live in fear. Our schools are no longer safe havens for our children, nor are movie theaters, nightclubs, live concerts or religious services.  The high school education we were all guaranteed by right is no longer sufficient to provide a reasonable base income or employment opportunities that support planning a future, starting a family, buying a home or saving for retirement.  Overdose drug deaths, primarily heroin laced with fentanyl, kills more than 70,000 Americans each year.  Most of our food supply is unhealthy in one way or another, packed with fats and sugars, preservatives, pesticides, GMOs and fillers. Our groundwater is contaminated with chemical runoff.  Our infrastructure is crumbling.  Our electric grid is vulnerable to a hacked attack by foreign actors. Our dependence on a fossil fuel energy supply, coal, oil and natural gas is not limitless and therefore, while being not only wholly unsustainable, it continues as the primary danger to the planet, nevertheless a priority for gutting environmental programs and stimulate the demise of climate worldwide, enriching the few so invested in stripping the earth of its resources.   Is this a life of liberty and happiness? 


Our nation is losing its leadership position in the world with our current administration’s threats to NATO and international trade and our “look the other way” policies regarding Saudi Arabia and human rights violations around the world.  Trump’s relationship and agreements with Putin and Russia remain a secret, while his naive attempts at diplomacy have moved Kim Jung Un to form alliances with both Russia and China that circumvent American interests and threaten our safety in an ever-increasing nuclear environment.  The “great negotiator’s” moves are a false promotional front, like a movie set, a veneer with nothing behind it.  By the time the problem is addressed by someone competent it may be too little, too late.


Natural disasters continue to destroy homes and livelihoods in every region of the country with floods, forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and drought, the rising oceans and the destruction caused by pollution to marine life and the very air we breathe, all fueled by man-made priorities putting profit above health and well-being.  Paying for a college education leaves our youth financially encumbered, facing lifelong choices that preclude starting a family or initiating major purchases while living with protracted years of family assistance spreading their burden over an even broader base, multiplying the struggle.  Yes, the economy is booming.  Gutting social and environmental programs, suppressing educational and health benefits, cutting taxes for the very rich, rolling back consumer protections and furthering social injustice make for a more favorable climate for capitalist profit, but who are these capitalists that see the benefits of investment? Most Americans cannot free capital from their meager incomes to rise above everyday realities to participate in this temporary boom.  Is the stock market the measure of our democracy or might it be our social programs and institutions designed to foster equality by helping the less fortunate while protecting our accomplishments? According to the Fed one-third of families in the bottom 50% of earners own stocks. On the other hand, according to Gallup nearly 94% of the top income group owned stocks in 2016 while only a total of 54% of all Americans invested in stocks, mutual funds, pensions or retirement plans.Record Dow highs don’t mean much to about half of all Americans becausethe top 1% controls 39% of the country’s wealth.  So, God bless the credit card companies, international banks and Wall street power brokers that they are witnessing a temporary “economic boom.” 


It’s time we realized that democracy is not an economic system.  Capitalism is not synonymous with democracy.  Democracy is a system designed to further equality through social justice and respect for human rights, by securing meaningful participation in the system for everyone.  It does not exist as an engine for capitalism.  Rather capitalism exists to further democracy.


All twenty Democratic primary candidates are unified in agreement on the various problems we suffer under and differ only slightly on the policy remedy required but nineteen are reluctant to take the battle directly to the source. But there is one exception, that last one to enter the fray, the 2oth candidate, Joe Biden, who acknowledges that Trump must be confronted head-on.


But it would be a mistake to think that he alone sees this as the foremost problem.  Democrats are divided yes, not on the issues themselves but on the approach to the solutions, basically along idealistic versus pragmatic lines. Progressives are mostly idealistic to a greater or lesser degree.  Klobuchar and Kamala straddle the idealist/pragmatist fence wanting to achieve their ideals in a pragmatic, a more practical conventional middle of the road way with, as they see it, less risk, while Bernie and Elizabeth Warren go all out on idealism.  But none of “The Nineteen” travel the so-called middle lane.  That is where Biden saw his opportunity, abandoned policy arguments and went all-out on a frontal attack, recognizing the obstacle to healing the country was sourcing the problem to Donald Trump. While “The Nineteen” tippy-toe around what we all know and agree on, that Trump must go, parsing policy hairs and fresh ideas, Biden brings that old school mentality for a conventional campaign and a knock-down political struggle funded by the same corporate entities that care less about who wins and more about securing a place in the mud at the feeding trough when it’s all over.  Biden’s value is that he will be the active barometer of the Trump-attack strategy and while he could influence the others to join in and pile on, I doubt it. He will be the main target of Trump’s vitriolic Twitters and the poison spewed by his surrogates, deflecting much harm from the progressives who will continue with a strategy of policy ideals, fertile ground were Trump is at a disadvantage.  Trump’s argument with them is limited to one word… “Socialism.”


It’s easier for his base to unite in fear around that one word than to actually consider the issues.  It’s an appeal to pure emotion and nothing less.  Do they not realize that Socialism is aligned with the Christian concept of taking care of one’s neighbor?  This is the case Biden is making without appearing to be a socialist.  He is making his entrance based on moral and ethical issues, neither political nor policy based, but fitness for office. This is what all Democrats believe and frankly so do most Republicans in private, that Trump is unfit. He is a plague that they allowed upon themselves and they can’t exterminate it without losing a few limbs. These church-mice will not speak up for fear of being primary-ed by a Trumpian candidate. And so we look for the Savior beyond them.  Is it Joe? Or will Joe be the spoiler that disheartens progressive momentum and creates a cynicism that keeps their numbers from the polls. Can Joe ride the Blue wave?


Meanwhile, the House is mired in a difficult decision… impeach or don’t impeach.  Doing the right thing is not a political decision but a moral and ethical choice. The political consideration is to not impeach for fear of damage in the 2020 election, while the moral choice, the courageous choice, is to do the right thing and hold Trump accountable for his actions, regardless of the political consequences that may or may not be incurred.  Impeachment must be considered for the values it upholds not the potential downside it may impose.


Trump has built his storm over the warm waters of the haters in his base who see themselves as the “very fine people” he describes and their collective hatred is carried inland on the Jetstream of the internet and media coverage to wreak havoc on a trusting nation.  A turbulent effect builds in a chaotic fashion, Trump feeding the storm and the rising storm feeding Trump until untethered and lacking any form of compassion, each feels licensed to commit heinous acts such as murdering Jews on the one hand or ripping asylum-seeking families apart on the other, taking children from their mothers and caging them like stray dogs in a pound.  This sort of open, unrepentant behavior has not been seen in a very long time.  It’s rather like the measles, thought to be wiped out, but now rearing its ugly head.


And so Biden enters the race as a fight for the soul of America.