In front of the stage filled with blue light, an exuberant crowd cheering and anticipating the speech from Joe Biden. First came Kamala Harris. She was beaming with her smile, congratulating the people for acting and standing by democracy. She introduced president-elect Joe Biden. In his speech, Biden declares he will govern as an American president, the president for all. “We are not enemies. It is time to unite. It is time to heal.” There is to be hope and possibility for all Americans.
After being bombarded for four years with obnoxious rhetoric and rancor of Donald Trump, it is a breath of fresh air to hear this. Civility has come back. Respect has come back. Biden has struck a conciliatory note. This is all the qualities I can hope for from a respectable leader.
Yet behind this julibrant celebration, I ended with the thought that this blue lighted stage is just a mirage. Despite the choice as a president for all, the condition of unity is not there. Those people he reaches out to will not hear it. The world is a lot more ugly than we hope. The illness of society is so deep, despite the best intention, the president will be helpless to heal.
I do not set out to write a negative essay. I am an optimist. I believe we are to confront the world’s greatest problem with our ingenuity, perseverance and resilience. Those who strive to act with integrity and righteousness will ultimately prevail. Our human nature is fundamentally good.
2020 is a difficult year. My optimistic outlook is severely tested. COVID-19, the novel virus that we initially assume mainly afflicts Asia, has unleashed to the world with vengeance. Socialization is to be minimized. It has fundamentally shakened the purpose of the city. I saw the once bustling downtown reduced to a ghost town. Working with my colleges is reduced to watching a grid of videos. I feel a piece of me has died.
The president should have been a leader to combat the pandemic. Instead he sabotaged the effort to control it, often acted brazenly even with cruelty. When he was criticized for his early failure, he took it out on WHO and reneged on the US' contribution. Scientists ignored and were pressured to serve his agenda. The White House stubbornly acts against public health best practices. Their irresponsibility ultimately led to the virus outbreak in the White House that sickened the president himself. I watched this unfolding with anger.
September 9th, 2020 is a defining moment in my life. In the morning, I noticed it was unusually dark outside. It is as if the sun has overslept and gotten up late. California was already ravaged by wildfire for weeks. Major fire was burning all around, destroying properties and choking us with smoke. The state struggles to get them under control. Still the darkness is unsettling. Dense smoke from fires as far as Oregon has filled the sky, turning the day into an apocalyptic night. I was profoundly dispirited. Even the sun has forsaken us.
The stakes of the 2020 US presidential election are very high. I fought for a resounding repudiation of Trumpism. The alternative, the vindication and mandate for Donald Trump, is unthinkable. After an excruciating delay, Biden has prevailed and Trump is defeated. Hope is restored. But has Trumpism been repudiated? It was noted that Biden has won the election with a healthy margin and the highest number of votes, a total of 75 millions, ever won in history. But Donald Trump has broken a record too. He won 70 million votes. 7 more millions of people have voted for him than in 2016. Despite all the lies, all the chaos, all the disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, these people have decided to double down on Donald Trump.
I’m dumbfounded on how Trump supporters can reconcile Trump’s constant lying. They were not anything subtle. Some claims are so laughable like Mexico is to pay for a border wall. How does Trump have a cultist hold on his followers? Is moral and integrity not a concern to them anymore? Perhaps it was digital social media to blame? Any public criticism is to be dismissed as fake news. Trump followers are free to create their own version of reality that reflects their hero’s delusional view. Conspiracy theorists can easily find validation among themselves. They will no longer be constrained by reality.
In many ways, there is no longer a common ground in this country. Biden has made an honorable effort to unite the people. Sadly it will not be recognized. The political outlook is continued polarization and pure partisanship. There will be a lot of instability as the balance shifts between the two parties. It is hard to see how this country is capable to set and achieve long term goals anymore.
The far right fraction is not the only problem. The far left has its own agenda to transform the society to their own ideal. They are not even a reliable partner in a coalition to defeat Donald Trump. I am frustrated that they are more motivated to rally against the Democrats who are deemed not sufficiently progressive, than to rally against Donald Trump.
I saw a lot of bad omen in 2020. A new year, a new president, will not easily turn this around.
The next day after the sky turned orange, daylight did come out the next day. The sun has risen again. But I can no longer take this for granted.