You remember, I am sure, the 1973 Redford/Streisand romantic movie The Way We Were. The theme in this post is “The Way We Are” - and how we got here.
As usual, Heather Cox Richardson has an excellent essay on the events, people, and historical trends that help us understand how we got to to the “here” in her December 30, 2020 Letter from Letters from an American.
Here is just the “now” part of it.
And so, we are at the end of a year that has brought a presidential impeachment trial, a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 338,000 of us, a huge social movement for racial justice, a presidential election, and a president who has refused to accept the results of that election and is now trying to split his own political party.
It’s been quite a year.
The increasing voice of democracy clashed most dramatically with Trump’s ideology in summer 2020 when, with the support of his Attorney General William Barr, Trump used the law enforcement officers of the Executive Branch to attack peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. and in Portland, Oregon. In June, on the heels of the assault on the protesters at Lafayette Square, military officers from all branches made it clear that they would not support any effort to use them against civilians. They reiterated that they would support the Constitution. The refusal of the military to support a further extension of Trump’s power was no small thing.
And now, here we are. Trump lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes and by an Electoral College split of 306 to 232. Although the result was not close, Trump refuses to acknowledge the loss and is doing all he can to hamper Biden’s assumption of office. Many members of the Republican Party are joining him in his attempt to overturn the election, taking the final, logical step of Movement Conservatism: denying the legitimacy of anyone who does not share their ideology. This is unprecedented. It is a profound attack on our democracy. But it will not succeed.
And in this moment, we have, disastrously, discovered the final answer to whether or not it is a good idea to destroy the activist government that has protected us since 1933. In their zeal for reducing government, the Trump team undercut our ability to respond to a pandemic, and tried to deal with the deadly coronavirus through private enterprise or by ignoring it and calling for people to go back to work in service to the economy, willing to accept huge numbers of dead. They have carried individualism to an extreme, insisting that simple public health measures designed to save lives infringe on their liberty.
The result has been what is on track to be the greatest catastrophe in American history, with more than 338,000 of us dead and the disease continuing to spread like wildfire. It is for this that the Trump administration will be remembered, but it is more than that. It is a fitting end to the attempt to destroy our government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
To understand how we got here, do read Heather Cox Richardson’s essay.
And let me add this. Trump is berating the states for not doing vaccines as rapidly as promised, leaving each of the 50 individual states to develop their own plan for vaccine administration. Consider Arizona.
Arizona revamps COVID–19 vaccine distribution system to speed up inoculations, reported by Howard Fischer and reprinted in the Daily Star. State Health Director Dr. Cara Christ acknowledged that only about 18% of the more than 314,000 doses received by this week actually have ended up in the arms of Arizonans. The rest may be rotting on the shelves of the malicious ineptitude of Donald J. Trump and his GOPlins.
But there may be hope for better times ahead. If the nation can weather the first week of January, in which the election results are finally confirmed, we may be able to move on and recover America the Beautiful.