Category Archives: Politics

Americans Are Suffering

I have not spoken much about politics since Joe Biden won the election. I had hoped by now that Republican leaders would have stepped up to congratulate Biden on his win publicly. Yet, few have done so, and America is suffering because of it. They know, Trump knows, we all know that it’s over. Yes, until the Electoral College officially casts their votes and Congress certifies them, there will continue to be a cloud of uneasiness that one of Trump’s schemes will work, and that is only one of the problems at hand. The transition to a Biden administration should be going smoothly; instead, petty bureaucrats are holding up the transition process under some idiotic notion of loyalty to Donald Trump. What Trumpists do not seem to understand is that he cares nothing about them. Trump cares only for himself and no one else, including his family. As Trump fights the election results, the country is in a perilous position. The economy, health, and diplomatic relations of the United States are hanging onto the side of a cliff, trying desperately to hold on until January 20, but will the damage be too great by then? It may be, and that my greatest fear.

No matter what he says in public, Trump obviously knows he’s lost. Why do I say this? It’s because he is punishing the people of the United States for his loss. Trump is seeking vengeance against those he believes have betrayed him, which happens to be the American people. It isn’t just the more than 82.5 million people who voted against him (nearly 80 million of those voted for Joe Biden). I suspect he even blames the 73 million who voted for him because he believes they did not do enough to get him reelected. After the election, Trump claimed that he would push through a new stimulus package, but we all knew that came with the unspoken caveat that it was only if he won. Now that he has lost, there will be no stimulus package before the end of his term. Talks with congressional leaders to arrive at a coronavirus stimulus deal, which were active in the run-up to the election, have gone dormant—with no signs, they will begin again despite the clear need for more money to be pumped into the economy to withstand the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the country. Trump will also not be extending student loan deferments. I received an email yesterday that said those deferments were coming to an end as of January 1, 2021.

Black Friday and Christmas shopping keeps many businesses in the black each year. How can that be the case this year when people barely have enough to pay for food or rent? As Dolly Parton sang, “Lord, it’s like a hard candy Christmas, I’m barely getting through tomorrow.” Unlike the song, though, we won’t “be just fine and dandy.” Furthermore, not many of us will be able to say, “still, I won’t let sorrow get me way down.” The families of over a quarter-million people will be without loved ones this holiday season. I filled my Amazon cart with the gifts for my family, and UPS will play Santa Claus for me this year because I will let Amazon wrap and ship those gifts to my family. I won’t be going home. I doubt I will even decorate for Christmas here. I rarely do since I am not usually here for Christmas, but even though I will be alone in Vermont this year, I just feel it is a waste of money to decorate just for me. I still think about the millions of Americans wondering how they will buy their children something for Christmas this year. It is difficult for many of them during a good year, but this is not a good year.

If the problems with the economy weren’t bad enough, the pandemic is surging like never before. Over 200,000 diagnosed cases a day. The surging coronavirus is taking an increasingly dire toll across the U.S. just as a vaccine appears close at hand. The nation has recorded more than 1,500 fatalities daily since Tuesday, death tolls not seen since May. On Thursday, the U.S. recorded more than 2,000 deaths. It is the highest level since the devastating spring in and around New York City. And what is the federal government doing about it? Donald Trump is playing golf at his club in Virginia. He continues to tweet in an effort to push any number of disproven or entirely fact-free conspiracy theories about the election. He is trying to push controversial military decisions, including planning to withdraw American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he has inquired about options to strike at Iran’s nuclear capabilities before he leaves office. He is also firing critical people in the government. He removed Secretary of Defense Mark Esper shortly after the election and has carried out a series of removals of civilian staff at the various government agencies. He is also rumored to be weighing the possibility of firing CIA Director Gina Haspel and has openly speculated about removing FBI Director Christopher Wray. 

Trump continues to exact vengeance on those who oppose him. Over 82.5 million people opposed him. Even the Constitution opposes him at this point, which is why he will proceed over the next sixty days with a policy of destruction aimed at the people and institutions of the United States. Like Sherman’s March to the Sea in the Civil War, Trump will follow a “scorched earth” policy, destroying the United States’ health, infrastructure, and economy. He hopes this policy will break the back of the American people and its democracy that he believes turned its back on him, just as Sherman broke the back of the Confederacy and helped lead to its eventual surrender. If Trump allows things to deteriorate bad enough, he believes it will cause the Biden administration to fail. Republicans will immediately begin blaming Biden for all of the failures in the United States caused by Trump. He thinks this will allow him to remain relevant and rise again to be elected in 2024, which is likely if Republicans continue to humor his every whim. Biden has a new reconstruction of the United States to handle. He will be inaugurated and take over a divided, sick, and economically (and mentally) depressed nation. I hope, and believe, Biden will do better than the Reconstruction government from 1865-1877, and unlike in 1877 when the South enacted Jim Crow and racial segregation and inequality, the nation won’t be again abandoned to the wolves over a political compromise that undermined democracy like the Compromise of 1877 which ended Reconstruction. 


Subverting Democracy

I think most of us knew that Donald Trump had no respect for democracy or the Constitution. So, it should come as no surprise that he’s lying, and lying, and lying again to claim he prevailed in the election that President-elect Joe Biden won decisively, fair and square. What no one knew for certain was whether the Republican Party would once again genuflect before Trump’s corruption and his indifference to the fate of our republican institutions. Some of us suspected they would, though I’d hoped they’d all have jumped ship by now. Sadly, the Republican Party has turned out to be as despicably ready to validate Trump’s falsehoods and authoritarian behavior as their worst critics feared. With precious few exceptions, Republican leaders have been quite happy to be complicit in Trump’s subversion. It’s absurd enough that managing Trump’s illusion that he didn’t lose is of such all-consuming importance in some quarters that we must endure even the possibility of extensive civic and governmental damage, all so that it can be slowly put out of its misery. That’s what we’ve come to, but it won’t be for much longer.

If it weren’t for Republicans trying to destroy the democratic ideals of the Constitution, all of this would be a comedy of errors, a satirical political movie filled with the absurd. But it’s very much real. When news broke last Saturday that Trump’s reign of terror was ending, the president was on a golf course that he owns in Virginia, playing his final round as a non-loser. In Washington, about 125 of his worshipful supporters gathered on the stoop of the Supreme Court to “stop the steal,” then circled the U.S. Capitol seven times, because that’s how the Israelites conquered Jericho, according to the Book of Joshua. And a pair of Trump’s most loyal surrogates made a defiant stand on the gravelly backside of a landscaping business (Four Seasons Total Landscaping that was likely mistakenly booked by the Trump campaign thinking it was the Four Seasons hotel). However, this Four Seasons is in an industrial stretch of Northeast Philadelphia, near a crematorium and an adult-video store called Fantasy Island, along State Road, which leads — as being associated with Trump sometimes does — to a prison. Trump’s campaign began on a golden escalator and ended in a dingy parking lot between a porn shop and a crematorium.

On every front, these legal efforts are already falling apart. Indeed, the Associated Press reports that senior officials and allies privately admit that claims of large-scale voter fraud — the basis for efforts to overturn the results — aren’t actually meant to be proved. The strategy to wage a legal fight against the votes tallied for Biden in Pennsylvania and other places is more to provide Trump with an off-ramp for a loss he can’t quite grasp and less about changing the election’s outcome, the officials said. That’s extraordinary: Trump allies are claiming in many high-profile forums that the lawfully cast votes of millions of Americans are illegitimate, mostly to create space for him to process his rage and grief over losing. It’s extraordinary that Republican senators and members of Congress, most of the conservative news media, and leaders of industry are all pretending like they think there might be election fraud just because the president’s feelings are hurt. All this sets up another possibility. With Trump unlikely to formally concede, you can see a kind of Lost Cause of Trumpism mythology on the horizon, in which many supporters continue believing the election was stolen from him and squeamish Republicans betrayed him by not fighting hard enough against it. These same people will ignore the fact that federal, state, and local election officials have said the election “was the most secure in American history” and that there was “no evidence” of any compromised voting systems. It simply won’t matter to them as they will see it as fake news, doing as Trump has trained them to do: ignore news they don’t like by claiming it’s fake news.

Republicans are backing Trump’s childish claims to make sure his voters in Georgia turn out for two Republican senators in the January 5 runoff election. For the next month and a half, Georgia is going to get nasty. The Republicans have already started their subversion of democracy. In Georgia, two GOP senators called on the state’s Republican secretary of state to resign, alleging irregularities and mismanagement without offering evidence. Only four of 53 Senate Republicans have congratulated Biden on his projected victory. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin recently told reporters, “there’s nothing to congratulate [Biden] about,” while Missouri’s Roy Blunt said the president “may not have been defeated at all.” It’s the latest sign of the Republican Party destabilizing our democratic ideals and practices. The journey towards authoritarianism predates the Trump administration, but Trump has accelerated these efforts. Now, according to data released by an international team of political scientists just before the November 3 election, we know it’s possible to quantify the extent to which the Republican Party no longer adheres to principles of democracy, the rule of law, and their commitment to free and fair elections. Under Trump, they have abandoned respectful treatment of political opponents and the avoidance of violent rhetoric. The Republican Party under Trumpism is dangerously close to fascism.

Republicans are turning their back on democracy, not only because of the Senate races in Georgia but also because they fear Trump. True to form, they are also doing it to weaken Biden and make it harder for him to govern. Republicans feel that if the party doesn’t fight for a recount and investigations of non-existent voter fraud, the Trump loyalists will leave the party. It seems to be less about the president than it is his voters. The Republican Party has to realize that Trump supporters need to be left behind. If the Republican Party wants these voters, they are encouraging their racism, homophobia, misogyny, conspiracy-driven hatred, etc. They represent the worst in America, and as long as the Republican Party humors them and Donald Trump, they are destroying the very fabric of American society and ideals. Sure, the Republican Party might lose ground, but then they could concentrate on rebuilding the party into a party that believes in the good of the country, even if we disagree on what that means.

Over the last few years, the willingness of many American voters to elect any clown with an R beside his or her name on a ballot, especially in my home state of Alabama and other solidly red states, has considerably dumbed down the already scarce pool of competent conservative candidates. But what I suspect is happening here is that this is merely another in a long line of absurd pandering from Republicans, hoping that fluff over substance will again win the day. When will Republicans in this country get tired of the constant bickering and nastiness? Many Democrats already have. Now, we are about to have a Democratic president who is agreeable to many people, especially blue-collar workers, because he’s promising to tone down the hatefulness and hostility, restore respect and decency to the White House, and be a president to all of America. Decency doesn’t keep the “oh my God, the liberal president is going to …” money rolling in.

Biden will very likely be a very popular president, even in very red places. It is clear to most voters that Biden won’t run for re-election so that he won’t be beholden to anyone. Republicans need a way to make Americans hate him. There’s a new day coming to America. There’s a chance for people to stop this insanity and put an end to the mind-numbing idiocy that has thrived in this country. We’re never going to agree on everything. Conservatives are still going to be conservative. Progressives are still going to be progressives. Moderates will still sway one way or another. But, hopefully, we can all agree that these sorts of stunts — in which elected officials blatantly lie and play upon phony emotion to sow division and anger — are intolerable. Because if these Trumpists are willing to lie to you about something as important and as sacred in this country as the election process, if they’re willing to undermine democracy and raise bogus questions about our elections, what won’t they lie about? What lie won’t they tell you to get your vote or your money? We all deserve better than this. And we should all demand it.

As Kenny Rogers sang:

You got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.

There are words of wisdom there for Donald Trump. He’s holding onto a hand that he’s going to lose. He needs to fold and walk away. A lot of Trump’s resistance is his overinflated ego, but I suspect he’s also scared.  His creditors are about to call in his millions of dollars in debt. Four hundred million of which is about to come due, but Forbes estimates that he has a total debt of $1 billion.

Clifford Berryman’s cartoon depiction of Debs’ 1920 presidential run from prison

Furthermore, the State of New York will be indicting him, and even if he pardons himself, which has dubious legal standing anyway, he would not be pardoned for any state crimes. So, when he leaves office, he may need to know “when to run” to a country without extradition treaties with the United States. His gamble in defrauding his creditors, the American people, and our allies are not going to pay off. Even if he is privately saying he will run again for president in 2024, it might just be from a prison cell. After all, Eugene V. Debs, the American socialist and five times presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America, ran for president from behind bars in 1920, but that was a different world back then. Still, he received 919,799 votes (roughly 3.4%).

The end is near for Trump. His resistance to come to terms with the truth and his juvenile efforts to resist Biden’s transition are undermining democracy and endangering our country’s national security. Intelligence operatives have already admitted that the instability and confusion caused by the 2000 election were part of the reason they missed all the signs of the terrorist attack on 9/11. Trump is endangering all Americans for his fragile ego. The Republican Party needs to move on from Trump and expel him from the party to save the Republican Party from the destructive nature of Trumpism. It’s a house of cards at this point, and it’s about to come crashing down. Let’s just hope it doesn’t cause more damage than we can repair.


Love In The Time Of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Mike Rudulph grew up near Birmingham, Alabama and enlisted in the Marines when he was 20 years old. At the time, he hoped that the military environment would bring him the sense of purpose he had been missing.

This was in 2000, during the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” when LGBTQ people in the military couldn’t serve openly.

Mike went on his first deployment to Iraq in 2003. When he got home, he met the man who would later become his husband, Neil Rafferty.

They got married in 2018, the same year that Neil ran for public office in Alabama — and won! He is the first openly gay man to serve in the Alabama State legislature. 

At StoryCorps in Birmingham, Alabama, Mike and Neil sat down to remember the early days of their relationship.

Originally aired August 15, 2020, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.


Uniting in Celebration

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Yesterday was an emotional day. It’s been an anxiety-filled and stressful week as we awaited the election results. After four scary and disheartening years, we can finally begin to breathe a sigh of relief and let our nation heal. After the election was called for Joe Biden, we saw celebrations all across the United States for the election of Joe Biden. As I told my friend Susan yesterday, “The celebrations seem more like we won a war than victory in a presidential election.” She responded, “I think we did!”

Under the presidency of Donald Trump, we have seen a lot of horrors. We have seen over two hundred thousand die in the United States of a disease that has ravaged the world. We have seen people uprooted because they have lost their jobs or been deported due to the president’s immigration policy. We have seen many attempts to tear down the democratic foundations of this country. We have wept a lot over what the outgoing administration has subjected us. We have mourned the loss of life. We have spent four years searching for a leader who will unite us and embrace all of us. Now is the time to be born anew, to heal, to build on cooperation, to dance, to embrace, a time to mend, a time to love, and a time for peace. November 3rd was our time to speak, and we did. Over 74 million of us spoke loudly to say we want to preserve democracy, and now it is a time to celebrate.

I think many of us feel like we have been “to hell and back.” We have found ourselves “pushed to the limit.” It may be that God is training you, like silver being refined in the fire. We cannot let this occasion go unmarked. We are celebrating, but we have a lot of work still to do to support the president-elect. Jesus told two parables that are related to us in Luke 15. As a group of “undesirables” (tax collectors and sinners) were drawing near to Jesus, the Pharisees and the scribes complained that Jesus received these sinners and ate with these undesirable people. In Luke 15:4-7, Jesus said to them:

 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Jesus says in this parable that no one should be left behind, and when we are brought together, we should rejoice. Joe Biden has run on this message; a message of healing the soul of our nation. We have suffered under the leadership of Donald Trump, and now it is time to come together and heal. Biden has said numerous times that he will be the president of all Americans. As Kamala Harris said in her victory speech last night:

“You voted. You delivered a clear message. You chose hope, unity, decency, science, and, yes, truth. You chose Joe Biden as the next President of the United States of America. Joe is a healer. A uniter. A tested and steady hand. A person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us, as a nation, reclaim our own sense of purpose. And a man with a big heart who loves with abandon.

I have never been so elated over a presidential election in my life. Even with presidents I voted for that actually won, I never felt this way about a president. I have never believed in a president so much. I believe with all my heart that Joe Biden will be a president for all Americans.

It won’t be an easy road for Joe Biden. Donald Trump’s apparent near-win, combined with Republican gains in the House and in state legislatures, tells us all we need to know where the country stands. If Trump hadn’t acted as his own worst enemy during the campaign, it might have been his landslide to claim. But Trump couldn’t pretend to be an adult long enough to assuage fears that his impulsive nature might ruin us. Biden will have to heal the divide that exists in this country. Ultimately, Biden’s victory will be a gift to the country. Biden will be the president that we need. He can make his stand — and his legacy — as the president who brought the nation back from the precipice. Biden is easy to like, and he knows the ropes. He has friends on both sides of the aisle, can broker a deal, raise the level of discourse, and restore dignity to the White House — all those things we’ve missed the past four years. After his third run for president, he has the potential opportunity to go down in history as a good man and the most consequential of presidents. His humility will be a gift to us all.

Now that the nightmare of the Trump presidency is finally coming to an end, we can do as we are told to do in Psalms 47:1, “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” Let us look forward to four years of a Biden/Harris administration. To quote Joe Biden’s victory speech last night:

It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric. To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again. To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans. The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season — a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America. Now that the campaign is over — what is the people’s will? What is our mandate? I believe it is this: Americans have called on us to marshal the forces of decency and the forces of fairness. To marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.


Waiting with Bated Breath

This election is giving me, and I think the majority of this country, anxiety. I saw a tweet that said, “Waiting for election results is like waiting for a grade on a group project. I know I did my part right, but I’m scared y’all messed it up.” If you’ve ever done a group project, then you know this feeling. I would guess that if you are reading this blog, it is likely you were like me and led the group and ended up doing the most work, which gives you the feeling that you will probably get a good grade. I almost always got good grades, unless you consider Pre-Calculus/Trigonometry or French History. I didn’t do as well in those classes. I’d also put American Literature II in that category, but I made a C in that class because I refused to suck up to the professor. He was a prick and only gave A’s and B’s to people who repeatedly told him how wonderful he was. Anyway, my point is that I am feeling a little better about the election, and as long as the counts are fair, I think Biden might win. 

As I am writing this post, Arizona is worrying me, but Georgia is looking better and better, but Georgia alone will result in a tie. We do not want a tie in the Electoral College. I know most people believe that the Democrats control the House of Representatives, and therefore, the election would go to Biden. However, if the election goes to the House, each state gets one vote, and the delegation decides how their state votes. There are a majority of Republican delegations in the House. While I think it is evident that Biden will win the popular vote by a large margin, I do not trust Republicans to do the right thing and give the election to the winner of the popular vote. It will go along party lines. Since the Senate, who chooses the Vice President, will still be controlled by the Republicans, Mike Pence will be the vice president no matter what happens. I believe that no matter who the House choses, a Republican Senate will vote for Pence. If the Electoral College is a tie, it will be awful.

We are already seeing Donald Trump calling legitimate and legal votes fraudulent; he will not go easily if Biden does get 270 or more electoral votes. He has said as much for months now, and he said as much yesterday in his treasonous speech. His cult followers are already hounding election centers to intimidate election officials into favoring Trump. If it is announced that Biden has the votes in the Electoral College, Trump is likely to call on his cultists to riot and will basically suggest a coup. I know that sounds extreme, but can you expect better of Trump? He has shown us already he cares nothing about democracy, the Constitution, or American institutions. 

As Claire McCaskill said last night on MSNBC, we can only hope that George Bush, the only living former Republican president, and respected Republican leaders such as Bob Dole will have to make a public display of congratulating Joe Biden on his victory. Trump hates Bush, so Bush alone will not accomplish what needs to be done. The country will need many of the spineless Republicans who have propped up Trump to save American democracy, by that I mean Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, and John Thune in the Senate and Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Liz Cheney, and even assholes like Matt Gaetz in the House will have to step up and denounce Trump’s usurpation of the United States government. Will they? Would they finally grow a spine and put country above party? I hope so, but I won’t hold my breath.

My point is that there will have to be Republicans who stand up to Trump. Hopefully, they do care about democracy because it’s obvious that Trump does not. Trump’s actions during this election are causing significant damage to the United States. They undermine his supporters’ faith in the country’s government. They also undermine the credibility of the United States around the world. And they force election officials, journalists, and social media platforms to choose between telling the truth and sounding nonpartisan; it is impossible to do both about Trump’s election claims.


A Long Day

Yesterday was a long day. I worked late yesterday to give a tour to a group of cadets. However, I was ready to go home at lunchtime. I was having pain in my hip, and my tooth was bothering me quite a bit. I was also exhausted from staying up late the night before. I had planned to go into work at 9 am instead of at my usual time of 7:30, which I did but not because I slept late. I had wanted to sleep a little late. On the days I go into the museum, I usually get up at 6 am, so technically, I did sleep a bit later, but only until 6:30. When I woke and looked at the news and saw (expectedly) that no winner had been declared in the presidential race, I just couldn’t go back to sleep. It also didn’t help that it looked like Democrats would not take the Senate. If the South actually cared about integrity and being a decent person, then Republican Senate candidates in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky would have lost.

When I was in college, I came up with a theory that if you were taking an English class and you wrote about sex or religion in an essay, you were almost guaranteed a B on the essay. If you could discuss sex and religion in the same paper, you were pretty well guaranteed an A. After this election, it seems apparent that in the South, if you are homophobic or racist, you will win your election. If you are homophobic and racist, you will win by a landslide in the South. The wildcard appears to be that if you are a southern politician and a crooked asshole, you’ll also win. 

The sheer fact that nearly 50 percent of American voters would rather have a misogynistic, racist, homophobic, lying, cheating, science-denying, criminal as president is alarming. It shows just how awful many people in America are. I believe that Trump did better than expected because Biden’s running mate is a woman of color. Racism in the United States is so inherent that it showed in the results of the 2020 election. The election of Barack Obama led to the racism in the South bubbling to the surface again. Southerners would mostly keep their bigotry to themselves and only talk about it around people they felt “safe” to make racist comments around. People, though, became more brazen about their racism during the Obama presidency. When Trump was elected, it gave voice to racists across the country. It encouraged and emboldened them to be “politically incorrect” and revel in their public displays of hatred.

Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy — that through demagoguery, he has laid waste to all the aspirations (even if unfulfilled) that we as a country hold dear: e pluribus unum, the American creed, the equality of all people who call this country home. Trump, a selfish autocrat, has thumbed his nose at all of that. Worse, he has emboldened millions of Americans to follow suit. To believe that Americans ignited and exploited by Trump don’t regard their fellow Americans as enemies, that they don’t hate other Americans, and that, after the final results, we won’t end up mad at each other? That is imagining an America that doesn’t exist. Trump has encouraged Americans to offend each other. He has brought out the worst in us to satisfy his own twisted interests. The outcome of the 2020 election will not settle any of this. Trump’s character defects, his disgusting behavior beneath the dignity of the presidency, his contempt for honesty and ethical governance have been on display since he entered the White House in 2017. And millions of Americans love what they see. What should be viewed with alarm is pointed to with pride by his followers. Donald Trump was, is now, and forever will be — along with his disciples — a threat to the nation he does not deserve to lead.

The pandemic had already shown just how selfish and hateful many Americans are. They ignored the science that wearing masks helps protect those around you, and they complained about every effort to battle the pandemic. Americans who voted for Donald Trump cannot call themselves Christian, as they voted to repudiate everything Christ advocated. The racism, misogyny, homophobia, and lack of empathy in the United States is an embarrassment. It also won’t magically go away if Joe Biden wins the election. Those who voted for Trump will not renounce their support for Trump, nor will they suddenly become decent human beings. For the American character to change, it will take at least a generation if it ever happens. 

I still believe that Joe Biden will do a lot to heal this country, but I know many people back in Alabama that will never support a Democrat. Even the miracle that was Doug Jones’ election to the Senate in 2017 was just an anomaly. There were just enough people who voted against a child molester for him to win, but everyone knew it would be short-lived. He would never win reelection as long as the Republican nominee was not a child molester. It was perfectly all right for Jones’ opponent to be a lazy, homophobic crook. I do not see the South changing anytime soon. Yes, there might be inroads in Atlanta, but Atlanta is not the entirety of the South.


Rambling and Random

I stayed nervous most of last night (which is when I am writing this). There are things I love about the South, but damn, I hate the politics down there. Alabama and Mississippi politics have always made me sick. As I am writing this, the AP had called Alabama for Trump, but that is no surprise. Just as it was no surprise that Biden won Vermont, and the experts called it just minutes after the polls closed. Even our Republican governor declared he voted for Biden. Governor Scott didn’t vote for president in 2016, but he said this election was too important not to vote, and he could not support Trump.

When I voted yesterday, it was pretty easy. If we had not voted early in Vermont, we had to take in the ballot mailed to us. Vermont mailed a ballot to every registered voter in the state in an effort to get people to vote early. I wanted to go in and vote on election day. There was no line when I entered the polling place, and I just took my ballot into the booth, filled it out, and put it in the machine. As I was leaving, there was a fairly long line out the door, so I guess I got there at the right time.

Enough about politics right now. There just aren’t enough numbers to either mourn the United States’ fate or to declare victory. However, I will talk about something else. One day last week, I broke a tooth. Actually, I broke two, but one isn’t bothering me. However, the more extensive break began to be very painful over the weekend. It almost became unbearable Monday night, so I called my dentist first thing yesterday morning. Luckily, they could get me in yesterday at 11 am. They took an x-ray, and my dentist said that the pain and the broken tooth were just coincidences. The pain was not coming from the damaged tooth but an infection around the tooth’s roots. 

I had an appointment already for Monday the 9th for a filling. I had a cavity when I went for my cleaning a week or so ago. However, my dentist decided to start a root canal on Monday on the tooth that is infected. Filling the cavity will have to wait. He also put me on an antibiotic. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this, but I am allergic to most antibiotics. He wanted to give me Amoxicillin, but I am allergic to Penicillin. So, he gave me Clindamycin. I can take Clindamycin, but I don’t react well to it. It gives me stomach issues. Anyway, I have seven days of this antibiotic. The last time I took Clindamycin for an abscessed tooth, it relieved the pain fairly quickly. I hope it works as well this time.

To update you on the bursitis in my hip, it is still bothering me, but I don’t see my physical therapist until next Tuesday. If it is not improved by the time I see my regular doctor on November 16, he will probably give me a steroid shot. On the headache front, I am continuing to do better. Yes, I occasionally have headaches, but the most recent ones are most likely due to the tooth infection, not my migraines. I am pleased to be seeing improvement with the Botox injections. My next set of injections will be in December.

So, there you have a rambling, babbling post of various updates.

Morning Update: I went to bed last night just before midnight, and I wasn’t feeling as hopeful as I’d have liked to have been. When I woke up this morning, I felt no better. What I woke to made me physically ill. I don’t usually say this, but I hate many of the people in my country. I don’t understand how this presidential race could even be close. This election should have been a massive, indisputable repudiation of Donald Trump for his mishandling of the pandemic, his uncontrolled White House incompetence, and his disdain for the rule of law. Instead, I woke to the disheartening message that Trump’s support in key states like Florida was, in truth, more significant than the polls had predicted and that Americans would rather have a misogynistic, racist, homophobic, lying, cheating, criminal as president than a good Christian man who wants what is best for all Americans, not just his wealthiest of supporters, because let’s face it, Trump cares absolutely nothing for the American people. He only cares about himself and possibly his wealthiest friends and supporters.

While there is still hope that Joe Biden will win this election, especially if he continues to lead in the states where he’s ahead, and the mail-in ballots continue to go in his favor (that is if those states are allowed to continue counting). However, even if Biden wins, it looks like the Democrats won’t take back the Senate, which means at least two more years of inaction in Washington as McConnell will block all Democratic efforts. The fact that Kentucky reelected a hateful little man whose only concern is his own political gain is disgusting. South Carolinians also sent back to the Senate that lying, self-hating, closet case Lindsey Graham. While those races aren’t terribly surprising, just demoralizing, I did break down in tears when they announced that Tommy Tuberville had won in Alabama. While Doug Jones’ losing his reelection bid was expected, I hate to see a man like Tuberville go to the Senate. He’s a man who, while the coach at Auburn University showed he had no class by gloating about his wins against Alabama in crass and embarrassing ways, he also defrauded millions from investors when he set up an investment firm (unlike his partner, Tuberville escaped prison). There is more I can say about Tuberville, but it just upsets me too much.

The most depressing news I woke up to was pretty much expected: Trump claimed victory even though millions of votes still need to be counted. In the early morning hours, Trump claimed falsely that he had been reelected, and the election was being stolen from him in a massive act of fraud. He vowed to mount a challenge in the Supreme Court and declared that he had already won states that were still counting votes, including Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Trump’s demand for vote counting to stop in an election that is still undecided may have been his most extreme and dangerous assault on the institutions of democracy yet in a presidency replete with them. Trump’s remarks essentially amounted to a demand for American citizens’ legally cast votes not to be recorded in a historic act of disenfranchisement. As Chris Wallace said on Fox News after Trump’s remarks, “This is an extremely flammable situation, and the president just threw a match into it. He hasn’t won these states.” However, Trump is afraid that the mail-in votes will not go his way, which all indications point to that being true.

It’s incredible how competitive Trump has been in this election with 230K+ COVID deaths, his racist and inflammatory remarks, kids being locked in cages, and everything else. Even if Biden wins, he will have to govern in a Trump country. This is who America is, and that makes me saddest of all. I honestly can’t understand how a nation that has always claimed to be Christian can vote consistently to maintain a patriarchal, racist, homophobic, xenophobic country. The worst traits of the United States are more apparent than they have been since the Civil Rights era. Whether Joe Biden ultimately wins the elections or not, the United States will continue to be a nation of hatred and division.


Let America Be America Again

Let America Be America Again
By Langston Hughes – 1902-1967

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Frederic Edwin Church, Our Banner in the Sky, 1860

“Let America Be America Again” is a poem written in 1935 by American poet Langston Hughes. It was originally published in the July 1936 issue of Esquire Magazine. The poem was republished in the 1937 issue of Kansas Magazine. It was revised and included in a small collection of Langston Hughes poems entitled A New Song, published by the International Workers Order in 1938.

The poem speaks of the American dream that never existed for lower-class Americans and the freedom and equality that every immigrant hoped for but never received. In his poem, Hughes represents not only African Americans but also other economically disadvantaged and minority groups. Besides criticizing America’s inequalities, the poem conveys a sense of hope that the American Dream is soon to come. While Hughes does not address the LGBTQ+ as one of the minority groups, sexuality was likely on his mind when he wrote the poem. Some academics and biographers believe that Hughes was homosexual and included homosexual codes in many of his poems, as did Walt Whitman, who, Hughes said, influenced his poetry. Hughes’s story “Blessed Assurance” deals with a father’s anger over his son’s effeminacy and “queerness.” The biographer Robert Aldrich argues that to retain the respect and support of black churches and organizations and avoid exacerbating his precarious financial situation, Hughes remained closeted. There has been some controversy, but most of it centers on whether Hughes was homosexual or asexual. Few believe that he was heterosexual or had any interest in women.

Hughes wrote “Let America Be America Again” while riding a train from New York to his mother’s home in Ohio. He was depressed because of recent reviews of his first Broadway play and his mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. Despite being a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, he struggled for acceptance as a poet, battling persistent racism, and barely making a living. Selling a poem or a story every few months, he referred to himself as a “literary sharecropper.” Fate, he said, “never intended for me to have a full pocket of anything but manuscripts.”

Hughes finished the poem in a night but did not regard it as one of his best. The poem would be revised numerous times. It did not appear in his early anthologies and was only revived in the 1990s, first in a public reading by Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, later as a title for museum shows. Following Donald Trump’s election, the poem started trending on social media. In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and others in police custody, the poem has found new urgency. Perhaps it was the word again that first drew people’s attention. Decades before Trump used the slogan “Make America Great Again” in his 2016 campaign, Hughes published this poem titled “Let America Be America Again.” Hughes’s first poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” published in 1921, addressed the Black experience in America: “My soul has grown deep like the rivers.” In 1926, he published his first book of poems, The Weary Blues. Influenced by poets such as Walt Whitman, Carl Sandburg, and Paul Laurence Dunbar, Hughes embraced free verse. His collection included the poem “I, Too,” which opens “I, too, sing America,” and closes “I, too, am America.” The poems are a coda for Whitman’s poem “I hear America singing.” 

“Let America Be America Again” begins “Let America be America again / Let it be the dream it used to be,” then continues, “Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed.” It’s a dream of freedom, equality, opportunity, and liberty—the ideals that form the bedrock of the nation. Yet a parenthetic voice adds, “(America never was America to me).” If you’ve read much of Hughes’s work, it is clear that the parenthetic voice is the victim of the long history of racial segregation and oppression. The poem anticipates this assumption, and a new voice asks, “Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? ” What follows is a list of everyday Americans: “the poor white,” “the Negro,” “the red man,” “the immigrant,” “the farmer,” “the worker.” All are carrying hope for a better future, and all have fallen victim to “the same old stupid plan / Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.” America is not America to any of them.

The poem laments the conditions of the Depression, with millions unemployed and on relief, and asks what happened to America, the purported “homeland of the free,” where so many have nothing left now “except the dream that’s almost dead today.” Almost dead, yet unvanquished.

For Hughes, the United States was an unrealized, perhaps unrealizable ideal. It was a land that “never has been yet— / And yet must be,” a dreamland unlike any other country. But the nation’s failure time and again to live up to its aspirations is a profound part of the story. Whatever its struggles, the United States has always identified itself by its dreams. Dreams inspired by abstractions like democracy, justice, and rights. Dreams animated by those seeking freedom and equality. Dreams stirred by those making a new home in America and pursuing a better life. Hughes believed in those dreams, and his poem ends not with despair but with an urgent plea:

We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Hughes would continue to think about America, asking, “What happens to a dream deferred?” in a 1951 poem titled “Harlem.” Martin Luther King Jr. had also been contemplating dreams, long before his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. King and Hughes were friends: in 1956, King recited a Hughes poem, “Mother to Son,” from the pulpit. King publicly kept his distance because of the poet’s suspected Communist, just as King eventually distanced himself from his advisor and friend Bayard Rustin because of Rustin’s homosexuality. Even though publicly distanced from Hughes, King must have appreciated the closing of “Let America Be America Again,” where the people are summoned to redeem the land. In a sermon first delivered in 1954, he declared that “instead of making history, we are made by history.” The line is easily misunderstood. King was not offering an argument for why history matters; instead, he was decrying passivity and insisting on empowerment. It was a call to action. King was telling his congregation that the time for waiting on dreams was over—the time for making dreams come true had begun.

Today, we have the chance to put the United States back on track to letting “America be America again,” at least the dream of what America could become but has yet never been. We can elect Joe Biden and other Democrats to help heal the soul of this nation and try to fulfill the true American dream of democracy, justice, and rights. For too long, conservatives in the United States have held back the ideals of democracy that are found in the words of our Founding Fathers as laid out in the Preamble of the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Under Donald Trump, the idea of a perfect Union has been weakened as he has worked to divide this country along the lines of race, sexuality, health, age, and economic status. He has destroyed the domestic tranquility of the United States as his rhetoric and lack of action have led to protests over racial inequalities, women’s rights, and the health and safety of all Americans. He has worked with our enemies to weaken our status on the world stage and has distanced this country from our allies. He has failed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that promotes the general welfare of this country. He has mocked science and medical professionals, those who wear masks, and those who promote social distancing to curb the spread of the virus, and he has hocked quack endorsed and crackpot cures for his own financial gain. He is destroying our posterity by allowing a failing economy, civil unrest, and a raging pandemic to fester. His ineptitude and inexperience with leadership will doom this country if he is reelected. 

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” The opening line of Thomas Paine’s Revolutionary War pamphlet series, “The American Crisis,” resonates with Americans as much today as it did during the bleak winter of 1776. We, like our patriot ancestors, are locked in a struggle each side believes it must win to preserve the freedom and human dignity that are the natural rights of every American. Our souls are bowed under the pressure of the conflict, but each side remains resolute, even as we feel our nation’s bonds weaken under the strain. Everyone eagerly desires victory on Tuesday, and fear what might befall them if they are defeated. In his appendix to “Common Sense,” Thomas Paine wrote something that became one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite quotes: “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” Taken literally, the sentiment would end in bloodshed and revolution. But that’s not how Reagan read it; he viewed Paine’s idea as an expression of optimism about the American spirit. So long as Americans remained true to their political heritage (at least in rhetoric), the natural equality of each and every human being, Reagan believed every generation of Americans would always rise to meet their “rendezvous with destiny.” Sadly, Reagan did not rise to meet America’s destiny (he set us on this path to Trumpism), but I believe Joe Biden can and will.

We must elect Joe Biden and Democrats down the ticket to salvage the dreams of the United States. The Supreme Court has often been the force of social change and equality but is now in danger with a majority of conservative justices who care more about what their interpretation of the original intent of the Constitution is over the idea of a living Constitution that can better the American dream. Biden can help reverse that with reforms to the judiciary and possibly the addition of more justices to the Supreme Court. We need Democrats to take control and right the wrongs of the Republicans and the Trump administration. We need to bring dignity and legitimacy back to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. If you have not already voted, please vote today and vote for Democrats. Let this be a BLUE WAVE the likes of which this country has never before seen.


A Final Appeal Before The Election

I wanted to make one more case against Donald Trump before tomorrow’s election. So, I did a Google search for “Trump’s Most Egregious Offenses.” The results were staggering. There was a complete list of the Trump Administration’s record on LGBTQ+ rights. The list came to 18 pages of text. McSweeney’s, a nonprofit publishing company based in San Francisco, is most notably known for its humor and championing of new writers and publishes novels, books of poetry, and other periodicals, but early in Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the misdeeds coming from the Trump Administration. As of October 30, 2020, their list which they call “Lest We Forget the Horrors: A Catalog of Trump’s Worst Cruelties, Collusions, Corruptions, and Crimes” consists of a 300-page pdf with 954 “atrocities.” The various collection of misdeeds seems to be never-ending, and they all vary in different approaches. This election year, amid a traumatic global health, civil rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis, it seems ever more critical to remember these horrors and to do all in our power to reverse them.

Instead of trying to list even a small section of the egregious atrocities of Donald Trump, I want to share vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris’s closing argument for why LGBTQ+ people should vote for Joe Biden. It’s a piece she wrote for LGBTQ Nation:

Senator Kamala Harris at the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade
Photo: Scot Tucker/SFBay.ca

More than 50 years ago, a group of LGBTQ+ people at the Stonewall Inn did what so many Americans have done throughout our history—they stood up for equality. It was a turning point in a movement that would continue to march, organize, and vote for the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.

And it’s because of those efforts, through the decades, that, in 2013, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier were united in California’s first same-sex marriage after Proposition 8 was struck down by the courts—a wedding I had the honor of officiating.

But today, after decades of progress, LGBTQ+ equality is once again under attack.

President Donald Trump, Vice President Pence, and Senate Republicans jammed through a Supreme Court nominee who poses a threat to LGBTQ+ equality—just weeks after two other justices suggested reconsidering the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that made marriage equality the law of the land.

The Trump administration banned transgender Americans willing to risk their lives for our country from serving in the military. They’ve rolled back protections put in place by the Obama-Biden administration against employment discrimination for LGBTQ+ workers. And they opened the door to allowing health care workers to refuse treatment to patients based on their gender identity.

At a time when our country is experiencing the worst public health crisis in a century, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a reckoning on racial injustice, and a changing climate that’s battering our coastlines and setting the West on fire, it’s devastating that LGBTQ+ Americans must also worry about their human rights.

Here’s the good news: we can vote to put an end to the Trump-Pence era of discrimination and fear—and send the most pro-equality administration in history to the White House.

Joe Biden and I believe that every human being should be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or who they love. We will reverse the attacks the Trump-Pence administration has made on the LGBTQ+ community. And we won’t stop there—we will advance equality through long-overdue changes.

Right now, half of all LGBTQ+ Americans live in states where their civil rights can be violated. They face discrimination in nearly every aspect of their lives, from housing to starting a family to obtaining a driver’s license with their correct gender on it.

Joe and I will make enacting the Equality Act a top legislative priority in our first 100 days in office. Passing this law will guarantee that LGBTQ+ Americans are protected under existing federal civil rights laws.

We’ll work to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from violence, prioritize the prosecution of hate crimes, and work to end the epidemic of assault against the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure LGBTQ+ youth are safe from bullying, harassment, and sexual assault.

We’ll reverse President Trump’s discriminatory ban on transgender Americans serving in the military, and ensure that every American who is qualified to serve can do so regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We’ll make sure transgender service members receive the health care they deserve. And we will work to ensure LGBTQ+ individuals have full access to all appropriate health care treatments and resources, including care related to transitioning, such as gender confirmation surgery.

You can trust that Joe will work to support the LGBTQ+ community every single day as president—because that’s what he’s done for years. He supported marriage equality well before most major politicians. He worked with President Obama to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And he knows how much work there is left to do.

As the great civil rights lawyer Pauli Murray once said, “The lesson of American history [is] that human rights are indivisible.” They cannot be advanced for some and ignored for others.

Now is the time to build a country that embraces that truth—a country where every American is treated with dignity and respect, and where equality and justice truly are for all.

VOTE!!!

VOTE LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!

BECAUSE IT DOES!

ALL OF OUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT


Joe Biden Is The Clear Christian Choice

An image the Trump campaign used in an ad to mock former Vice President Joe Biden for praying.

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.

—Proverbs 22:24

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

— Proverbs 13:20

Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.

— Proverbs 14:7

The 2020 election will be by far the most consequential in my lifetime. I have watched our country transform drastically over the past nearly forty years- from the AIDS crisis, the digital revolution of the ’90s, 9/11, the subsequent war on terrorism, the financial collapse of 2008, to the election of our first black President. The past forty years of American history have been anything but smooth sailing, yet the moment we’re facing as we approach Tuesday’s election feels unlike any other that I’ve lived through. The future of American democracy seems to be in jeopardy, and our country’s moral heart feels as if it is on life-support.

Over the past four years, the Trump administration has proven to be as fraught with scandal and immorality as one should have expected when electing a reality-TV star to lead the most powerful nation in the world. And with every scandal, every racist tweet, every regressive executive order, many in the United States have grown accustomed to spending five minutes in outrage before moving on to the next unbelievably ignorant utterance to come out of the President’s mouth. Not all of us forget the harm Trump has done to our country. None of us should have had to get used to the constant misdeeds of a president. Not being shocked as Trump continues to be more despicable and outrageous every day should trouble all of us deeply. If this trend continues, I fear that our national conscience will cease to exist, allowing for the worst of our nature to flourish.

For better or for worse, the American President is not only the leader of the executive branch of government but is the figurehead of our nation. In theory, the President is supposed to embody the best of America on the world stage and be a figure that all of the country, regardless of their political affiliation, can get behind. They’re meant to be a leader that can set aside their own self-interest to represent the whole country, especially in moments of tragedy and turmoil. This role has proven to be essential in keeping the social cohesion of our country in our most fragile moments. And Donald Trump and his cronies have shown us what happens when a President doesn’t act in this capacity.

The United States is teetering on the edge of a race war. Federal law enforcement officers in unmarked vehicles were sent in to disrupt and discourage protestors in Portland. Transgender rights continue to be rolled back. A pandemic continues to ravage the most medically advanced nation on earth because our leader has yet again put profit over people. Our economy is on the verge of total collapse. Our allies worldwide now see us as an enemy, and our enemies now see us as an ally. It is not an overstatement to suggest that America in 2020 is beginning to look like a scene out of a dystopian fantasy novel. But friends, this is far from fantasy. This is our new reality under Trumpism.

As a Christian, I resisted at first to put politics in my Sunday posts, and I tried to focus on how we can be better people. However, as election day draws near and the pandemic is worsening, I do think we are fighting for the very soul of our nation. Trump is backed by religious fanatics who want to impose their twisted morality on others. So, I had to ask myself, what would God want me to do with the space I have to communicate with the readers of my blog? By and large, I have tried to use my blog to help make us all better people, seeking to use my voice and meager resources to help make the lives of others better. We have a moral and spiritual obligation to hold our elected officials accountable to doing what is right and just.

I have also become convinced that it is my moral and spiritual duty to encourage others to vote in the 2020 election because it has never been more apparent just how much damage can be done by a single ill-intentioned, unqualified individual in elected office. The majority of the Trump administration has been filled with such people, and they have done irreparable damage to some of the most sacred institutions of our democracy in just four (long) years. Our votes matter, this election matters, and the candidates we support matter, so we must vote our conscience and vote out the man currently in the White House and all the Republicans who have enabled him. Back during the Bush administration, I heard John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush referred to as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” We couldn’t imagine anything worse at the time, but the current administration puts to shame Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush. As a side note, I find it interesting that on the George W. Bush Presidential Center website, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are referred to as Populism, Nativism, Isolationism, and Protectionism. It took us eight years to rid ourselves of all of them. Sadly, the United States is currently experiencing the true Four Horsemen: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death.

As a Christian, I have been reminded that looking for candidates who believe in the universal moral ideals that Jesus embodied is not only a good thing to do but what we must do. We also have to keep in mind that no candidate will perfectly embody the way of Jesus. We need candidates who believe that loving our neighbors is a core moral goal. They must resist evildoers while realizing that turning the other cheek is a better path forward than retribution and retaliation. We need politicians who will provide and care for the poor because it is the obligation of every society. He or she must believe in creating a future of equity and justice for everyone (even those we disagree with). These traits are precisely what we need to continue to move this country in a direction of true progress.

One of the core texts that summarizes the values embodied by Jesus comes from Luke 4, where He steps into a Synagogue and reads from the prophetic words of Isaiah, declaring that these words embody His mission and calling. The words Jesus read are as follows:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisonersand recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s liberation for all.”

—Luke 4:18-19

If you read that text and then look at the two candidates’ platforms, Joe Biden is clearly the singular candidate that embodies these values best by far. When holding up Biden’s values and record with that of Donald Trump, there can be not even a hint of doubt over which candidate best represents the values of Jesus. Biden’s platform and record stand for economic justice for the poor, fighting systemic racism, demanding reform for those in prison, arguing for universal healthcare even for those with pre-existing conditions, promoting the value of respectful debate in American discourse, valuing empathy and diplomacy, and protecting first amendment rights. On the other hand, Trump seeks to make the poor invisible, threatens his opponents with prison, is working to kill the Affordable Care Act amid a global pandemic, supports memorializing racists and slave owners, praises authoritarian dictators, and continually threatens the First Amendment rights of Americans.

There is no contest here. Anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ and allows the values of Jesus to inform their values and morals should have no question as to which candidate represents the better future for our nation. Joe Biden is not perfect, nor has he always made perfect choices in his career, but by and large, his life reflects the way and wisdom of Jesus. On the other hand, Donald Trump has a life-long record of willful, unrepentant sin, greed, and destructive behavior that he has brought with him into the Oval Office and normalized on the world stage.

As followers of Christ, we should care about the morality of our elected officials, especially the President, not just for the benefit of our own self-interests or those of our country but for the good of the whole world. The election is almost upon us. Tuesday is just two days away, and we should understand the gravity of the responsibility we hold and the moral weight of our vote. Matthew 12:36 tells us that we will be accountable to God for “every careless word” we speak. How much more will we be held accountable for a vote cast that promotes everything opposed to the way of Jesus? On Tuesday, it is imperative that every American vote. And from where I stand as a Christian, there is only one candidate with a record and platform deserving of my vote: Joe Biden.

This post was adapted from an essay written by Rev. Brandan Robertson.