Former Vice President Joe Biden is fond of saying, “This is not who we are.”
I like him. He wasn’t my first choice for president, but I voted for Uncle Joe. I’m rooting for him as the final election results are being tabulated.
But the fact that roughly half of Americans voted to reelect President Donald Trump, despite four years of watching his lying and hateful ways, shows just how wrong Biden is when he says, “This is not who we are. We are better than this.”
Biden makes this statement in reference to a lot of things — our treatment of undocumented immigrants, Trump’s division of Americans based on “race, religion, gender, national origin,” and after mass shootings.
But I beg to differ.
This is so who we are. And, unfortunately, we are not better than this. America has been on this path since this country’s ignoble inception when our forefathers enslaved Blacks, exterminated Native Americans, and denied women the right to vote.
It’s why we shouldn’t be surprised that roughly half of American voters knowingly supported a racist and misogynist whose administration separated more than 500 migrant children from their parents and downplayed a virus that has cost more than 230,000 people their lives.
Nearly half of voters apparently care more about their red hats and their MAGA tribe than shoring up the Affordable Care Act and ensuring that all Americans have access to health care. Apparently the threat of stripping funds from Social Security, turning our backs on the Paris Climate Agreement and removing environmental regulations matter less to them than riding the Trump train.
Roughly half of the Americans who cast ballots were OK with doing so for a man who has denigrated the Black Lives Matter movement and expressed support for Confederate memorials and white supremacists such as the Proud Boys, whom he told to “stand back and stand by.” Make America Great Again indeed!
It’s sobering how so many millions still voted to reelect this disaster of a president, proving just how deeply divided we are as a nation.
After the last four years, we should be talking now about how Biden won by a landslide, not watching as right-wing protesters attempt to block vote counting in Michigan or worrying about what other madness there is to come.
When Biden ultimately prevails — as it appears he will — and moves into the White House, he won’t be able to bridge this gulf.
I hate to be pessimistic, but President Barack Obama tried to take it on. It was too much for him, too. It’s too deeply rooted in the fabric of America. It always has been, even before suffragettes and civil rights activists began demonstrating and demanding basic rights that should have been enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
We’ve made a lot of progress. At least these days, some Americans try to hide their bigotry behind code words and dog whistles. I suspect that is why some of the polling was off. Perhaps many Trump supporters are aware that they are on the wrong side of history or lie about their leanings for fear of pushback from friends and relatives. Others may be ashamed. I would be.
Despite Biden’s protestations to the contrary, this is who we are.
But as I pointed out earlier, I like Biden. He’s trying to nudge America into living up to its promise by telling us, “This is not who we are.”