I have mostly stayed away from partisan politics in my email updates. The current state of our country and the world calls for a departure from that approach. You might presume that since I’m a Democrat, I support the Biden-Harris ticket, but at the national conventions, both parties brought forward multiple people from the opposite party who supported their candidate. Therefore, I am putting forward here my strong endorsement of the Biden-Harris ticket for President and Vice-President and will present the reasons why I believe their election is vital to our future. Since the election is fundamentally about electing people as our leaders, I start with issues of character and temperament.
1. Temperament: I believe in kindness, respect, and compassion as core values. I reject the notion that these values are fine for personal relationships but a different and harsher approach is required for governing. Rather, what our country and world require more now than ever are people who lead from these values. Joe Biden is a kind, compassionate, and respectful person. His life has been shaped by personal tragedy and he brings his experience of the fragility of life into all of his relationships. President Trump’s constant hostility, belittling of others, and narrow-minded thinking are very harmful to the love and cooperation required for the world to make progress in solving its problems.
2. Respect for Truth: It is very difficult to solve problems without starting with an agreed set of facts. The American people cannot perform their role as citizens when they have no idea what to believe. I’m not saying Joe Biden is perfect. He gets facts wrong, too. However, I believe he respects the truth and does his best to be truthful. President Trump does not. His disregard for the truth is legendary. He will say anything he sees as advantageous, regardless of the truth.
3. Respect for Science: We can’t solve problems like climate change and global pandemics without making good use of the best available scientific information. Much in politics can be matters of opinion, but in science we have to go where the data take us. I’m not one that believes in blindly following expert opinion. One of the great challenges of leadership is to make good use of expert knowledge and also exercise good judgment as to how it should be applied in the current circumstances. I believe that Joe Biden has the right temperament to find that balance. President Trump pursues his personal and political agenda, regardless of science, and it is very dangerous.
4. Taking the Job Seriously: It’s important to realize what you don’t know. There is so much that a President must be aware of and act on. The reports that President Trump spends very little time reading briefing documents or discussing issues in depth are very disturbing. Joe Biden will take the job seriously and give it the effort and attention it requires.
5. Corruption: President Trump has failed egregiously to separate his personal business from his duties as President. He steered millions of dollars of public business to his business properties, often despite considerable inconvenience. He conditioned US support for Ukraine on their cooperation in digging up dirt on the Biden family. He used the White House for his political nomination acceptance speech. Joe Biden is not totally in the clear. I do believe that some of Hunter Biden’s activities had at least the appearance of making improper use of the Vice-President’s public position. However, I believe that Joe Biden has a clear sense of what the boundaries are, especially in the current environment, and will run a clean administration.
Now, I move on to public policy. The number of issues presented could be vast, but I will limit this presentation to the most important.
1. Climate Change: The world urgently requires that the USA provide global leadership on this existential crisis. President Trump has not only not provided leadership, he has moved us strongly in the wrong direction through denial of science, withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, reduction of environmental standards, and support of the fossil fuel industry. I fear that even Joe Biden will not take action as bold as what is needed, but it will be a huge improvement. He understands the magnitude of the problem, respects the science, and will move us in the right direction.
2. Coronavirus: President Trump failed us miserably on coronavirus response. Even though we only have 4% of the world’s population, the number of coronavirus deaths in the USA now exceeds 200,000, which is over 20% of the world total and almost 50% more than any other country. He put political considerations above the health and safety of the American people. The primary failing was an unwillingness to simply tell the American people the truth about the seriousness of the problem, and to model the actions needed to deal with it. He has doggedly worked to create the impression that everything is back to normal when it is not. Because of his disregard for his own scientific leaders, he has not been able to put forward a clear and consistent message to the public. Joe Biden will give the coronavirus the attention it deserves and be honest with the American people about what has to be done.
3. Race Relations and Immigration: What we require in this country more than anything is to embrace that we are one country and one people and we all must work together. Racism has been a part of our country since the beginning. Its presence is felt in the ways our institutions and programs are organized, sometimes without our even being aware of it. We require a vigorous and comprehensive program to root out racism from our way of life and create equitable opportunity for everyone. We must also recognize that immigrants add to our culture and economy, not detract from it. I know that there must be some rules regarding how new people come to this country and how they become citizens and some of these issues don’t have easy answers, but we must approach it from a vision of compassion, fairness, and inclusiveness for everybody. President Trump has stoked racial and ethnic division with his divisive rhetoric, making matters worse and not solving problems. Joe Biden promises a sincere effort to bring people together and solve problems.
4. Economy: President Trump claims credit for strong economic conditions during his term prior to the pandemic. We did do well on traditional measures like Gross National Product and employment levels, and these conditions partially resulted from Trump’s policies. However, three things greatly diminish his economic claims. The first is that his policies have not reduced economic inequality; his $1.5 Trillion tax cut mostly for large corporations and the wealthy made inequality worse. Second, economic prosperity depends more on business investment in new technology and desirable products than government policy. Third, his economic policies mortgaged the future for short-term economic benefit. His debt-expanding tax cut and reductions in environmental, health, and safety regulations will hurt our economy in the future. Joe Biden will pursue an economic policy that will enable more people to be successful and create jobs through investment in clean energy and infrastructure.
5. Foreign Policy: President Trump has cozied up to foreign dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un and snubbed our allies. His unpredictable actions and withdrawal from international agreements have left the rest of the world lacking in confidence in our country’s leadership. President Trump’s stoking of tensions with China for political benefit is not good for world peace and stability. What we need is firmness and boundary-setting combined with engagement to find areas where we can work together. Joe Biden is temperamentally better suited to build a workable relationship with international leaders.
6. Democratic Institutions: There can be debate over where the authority of the President ends and that of Congress begins, but there is no doubt that President Trump and his administration have repeatedly refused to cooperate with proper Congressional oversight. He also overstepped his authority on numerous Executive Orders, many of which have been overturned by the courts. Our democracy is in peril when the checks and balances between the President and Congress aren’t working properly. We must restore the proper balance before it is too late. Joe Biden has demonstrated the ability to work with many different kinds of people, and will restore a proper balance between the executive and legislative branches of government.
7. Administration: President Trump has surrounded himself with cabinet, agency leaders, and staff not well qualified for their positions. The chaos and frequent turnover in his administration is not conducive to good government. He has removed capable public servants from the State Department, diminishing its effectiveness. He appointed an Attorney General who favors almost unlimited Executive power and has been improperly partisan in his conduct of the Justice Department. Joe Biden will rebuild the administrative infrastructure with diverse and capable people to run an effective government.
8. Supreme Court and Judiciary: The recent passing of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg elevates the issue of what President Trump has done with the Judiciary. He has already appointed two Supreme Court Justices, 53 Appeals Court Justices, and 159 District Court Judges, almost all very conservative people who will not interpret the Constitution and the law with the flexibility that is needed for the USA to do well in the 21st Century. One does not need to be a decidedly liberal person to believe that having a balance of perspectives on the Federal Courts would be good for the country. Joe Biden will help restore the proper balance in judicial appointments.
I conclude with a few words about Kamala Harris, the Democratic candidate for Vice-President. Despite President Trump’s belittling comments, she is one of the best qualified people ever to be nominated for the office, regardless of race or color. She combines substantial national legislative experience as United States Senator with substantial administrative experience as California’s Attorney General for six years, where she oversaw the largest state law enforcement agency in the United States. Her status as the first woman of color to be nominated for this office appropriately adds diversity to the Democratic ticket.
In summary, the American people are about to make a historic decision about the future of our country and world. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will govern with compassion, inclusivity, respect for truth and science, and a focus on finding real solutions to the problems we face. Re-electing Trump will mean four more years of chaos, division, and mismanagement, while urgent problems like climate change, coronavirus, and racial equity are not properly addressed. Whether you vote by mail, early in-person, or on Election Day, be sure to vote and vote for Biden and Harris and do everything you can to encourage other people to do the same. For an easy way to write letters to help turn out likely Biden-Harris voters in key states, go to www.votefwd.org.
I have one concluding comment. In the USA, the peaceful transition of power is sacrosanct. Because of all the voting by mail expected this year, it may take up to a week for almost all of the ballots to be counted. We should be patient and allow that process to be completed. Once that is done and we know what the results are, there can’t be any talk from either side about not accepting the outcome. The voice of the American people must be honored and respected.