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THOMPSON: One major issue decided the US election

November 09, 2020 - 12:00 PM

OPINION


In the greatest voter turnout ever, Americans chose Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Almost as important...with a run-off election in Georgia on Jan. 5...there’s a chance of flipping from Republican to Democrat the U.S. Senate, with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.

Many issues clouded the minds of voters, but the election really came down to how Americans felt about two sides of the same coin...the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who felt Donald Trump’s ineptitude and deception killed a couple hundred thousand Americans unnecessarily voted for Biden. Those who thought the “cure” - social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and opening businesses carefully - was worse than the disease voted for Trump.

The pandemic is getting worse by the day in America...with more than 10 million cases and a quarter-million deaths. Forty of 50 states have increasing rates of infection. Cases aren’t declining in any states with high numbers...they are increasing. The latest trend...about 100,000 new cases every day across America. This Winter things will get worse simply because people are trapped inside due to weather, according to  epidemiologists, and if people gather inside...it will get worse still.

The Trump Administration has done little to thwart the pandemic’s spread this year...and don't expect anything different between now and Jan. 20...Joe Biden’s inauguration. Trump will hand over a government in chaos. He is a vengeful person...he has been his entire life...so he’ll play out his “scorched earth” strategy. Trump is both pathetic and predictable.

Trump will - by Jan 20 - have killed more than 300,000 Americans...and he couldn’t care less. Never has he shown empathy or cared for anyone other than himself and his family. Forget any remorse...asked what he would change about handling the pandemic if he could go back in time, he quipped, “Not much!”

Like Humpty Dumpty, I’m not sure anyone can put America back together. You have most of the same grid-lock Republicans in the Senate returning - Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn among others - who blocked more than 260 legislative bills that could have helped all Americans the past four years.

Trump and Republicans did their best to undermine democracy...to the very end. Trump, Attorney General William Barr...who Trump used like a personal lawyer...and  Postmaster General Louis DeJoy conspired to “lose” more than 300,000 ballots that were duly executed and mailed in time. Democrats usually vote by mail more than Republicans...so just another way to cheat the system.

Only Republicans suppressed the vote - again - in Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. It’s hard to quantify how many voters were discouraged from voting in say...Houston’s Harris County...where only one polling place was open...for four million voters. Many Texans - especially poor people - didn’t have transportation for the 50-mile trip to cast their ballots.

This year, Republicans have filed 40 different lawsuits...and not one was to make voting easier...every single suit sought to disenfranchise voters...Democrats or those thought to be Democrats.

So, hanging the task of unifying America around Joe Biden’s neck seems neither fair nor realistic. There will be an entirely different tone in the Biden White House...but more importantly...there will be caring and competence. Americans will see it from day one...even those who voted for Trump. As I listened to Biden and Harris acceptance remarks on Saturday in Delaware...I felt like it was the first time I could breathe in four years.

There may be recounts and legal challenges in the days and weeks ahead...though most suits are superfluous, according to legal scholars. Even so, Trump attempted a coup against democracy last week...claiming victory and encouraging unrest on Thursday night. Trump is a little man...expect the worst for the next ten weeks. But democracy is so much bigger than any one man or woman...and certainly bigger than Donald Trump.

The bigger lesson is that democracy is like a bad family reunion...messy but still family. Democracy is the essence of freedom. This record American vote has been bitter and ugly at times, but it has once again proven the power of every ballot in this...the world’s oldest democracy.

Trump made no concession speech...offered no congratulatory phone call. Trump won’t be at Biden’s inauguration...he lacks the grace...the character...the honesty. He’ll be sulking at Mar-A-Lago...surrounded by sycophants...all nodding in agreement when Trump claims his crowd was bigger.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I truly believe that...and apparently so do most Americans.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.


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