When the Biden/Harris ticket was elected, I felt nothing but relief and gratitude. At the time (pre-Thanksgiving), I planned to write an upbeat column on those decidedly upbeat feelings. However, that wasn’t the way it turned out. I just couldn’t switch gears. What I actually wrote, my previous entry on Marj-inized, called “The Audacity of Hope,” is hardly sweetness and light.
Since then, I’ve tried to focus on the positives of the whole pandemic experience, both personally and politically.
Personally, now in the tenth month of semi-isolation, what I’m most grateful for are pretty practical—things like Zoom, for instance. I’ve never been a fan of chatting on the phone with a disembodied voice, but video chats are different--more like “being there.” You feel more connected and the more you use it, the more normal it feels. I’ve watched my son and granddaughter tie-dye shirts a continent away and had frequent family visits with all three kids at once as their work schedules (and three-hour time differences) allowed.
And every week, I’ve had chats with my two sibs (each of them hundreds of miles away), virtual Happy Hours with some of my favorite locals, video visits with a new friend, discussions in a virtual forum on topics ranging from politics and economics to religion and the challenges families face in these parlous times. In other words, with Zoom—and other video chat applications—I’ve stayed connected. Without that technology, the pandemic would have been so much more isolating.
The Gift of Time
The pandemic has also brought the gift of time. Like magic, commitments were cancelled. While I often berate myself for accomplishing what feels like next to nothing in a mostly unscheduled day, I have reviewed hundreds of 35-millimeter slides, ferreted out the best and grouped them to go to a scanner. I’m beginning the daunting task of de-cluttering, no small feat when you’ve lived in the same house for 35 years. (How can that be?) Suddenly, it just makes sense to get to those “put-off-able” tasks now.
And finally, while the pandemic hasn’t made me or my family stronger, it has made me made me appreciate the bonds we have.
One of my sons caught Covid-19 in March, very early. All we knew then was that it was highly contagious, presented with unpredictable symptoms, had no known cure, and was often fatal. With him on the east coast, me on the west, and travel foolhardy, I stayed home in spite of that famous motherly instinct to fly to the rescue. We kept in touch with frequent phone calls, but as one day turned into another and his symptoms worsened, there were sleepless nights for both of us.
Late one night I could tell he hardly had the strength to talk, but sensed he needed to feel connected. Finally, I said, “How would you like me to read to you?” With that, I pulled Marley and Me off the shelf and started reading. By the end of the first chapter, he was asleep. I was grateful not only that he had temporary relief from pain but that I had finally found something I could do to help. Sometimes the helper is as needy as the helped.
A Blessing in Disguise
With such a bungled pandemic response from the government, finding anything to be grateful for on the political scene has been a challenge, but the glaring clarity with which we can now see the Republican Party is a blessing in disguise. Clarity has been bought at an unthinkable cost: millions sickened, hundreds of thousands dead, businesses ravaged, jobs lost, the economy decimated, political division a chasm.
However, the GOP now is a party exposed. It’s clear that, in its current iteration, it is incapable of governing. Inexplicably childlike in the face of a national bully, the party has been hijacked by an ignorant, heartless, self-serving man trapped in his own delusions. As if the craven cowardice of the past four years were not enough, now we have Republicans signing on to Trump’s many attempts to get the results of the election overturned. It boggles the mind. Trump, it seems, is stuck in the developmental phase child experts call the time of magical thinking—and his followers have signed on for the ride.
Meanwhile—and here’s the good part—prominent members of the party are beginning to hurtle out of the playpen. Consider, for instance, the creators of the Lincoln Project and the numbers who increasingly speak out on national news outlets--George Conway, Steve Schmidt, Justin Amash, Paul Mitchell, to name just a few.
The Dying GOP
I’m not sure the Republican Party can be rehabilitated. The party’s performance in the Time of Trump has made it clear that they’re too immature to carry on in their current state. I’m grateful that the pandemic, coming on the heels of a chaotic three years, has clarified the need not only for a new administration, but for a new political party to replace the dying GOP. We need two parties, but we need both of them to represent legitimate principles in the political, economic, and social arenas, not to be sycophants of an inept and unqualified “leader.”
Meanwhile, we have elected two adults, eminently qualified to take on the daunting tasks at hand: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. For that, I’m grateful.
Thoughts for Our Time
“Conservatism discards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows Progress; having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present, and makes no preparation for the future.”