What if Democracy Fails?
Why the Biden/Harris Ticket Presents a Critical Choice
By Alfonzo Porter
Most of us are familiar with the metaphorical boiling frog adage; that if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out immediately. However, if placed in warm water that is gradually brought to a boil, the frog would sit until boiled to death.
Over the past four years, the political environment in the U.S. has been slowly brought to a boil. Yet, unlike the unsuspecting frog, we’ve acknowledged that the temperature has been steadily rising and we are left with little choice but to leap from the fire as a nation and replace Donald Trump as president.
By his actions, Trump clearly believes that we are no smarter than our slippery, green, amphibian friend as he, some would argue, begun to dismantle our democracy brick by brick since arriving in the White House in 2017.
Lobbing one attack after another on American norms and institutions through his media-craving daily Tweeting tirades, Donald Trump has stripped away any pretense about who he is intrinsically.
So as the nation faces the quadruple threat of a deadly pandemic that continues to claim more than 1,000 lives a day, tens of millions of Americans unemployed, race relations in crisis and environmental emergencies featuring twin simultaneous hurricanes in a Gulf of Mexico and wildfires decimating California, Trump relishes fanning the flames of hate, division and conspiracy.
Much like Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burned to the ground, this president golfs and behaves as if all is well.
His most recent assault on the U.S. Post Office suggesting, without any evidence, that mail-in ballots are rife with fraud is apparently beginning to convince those who follow him that the election will be rigged if he does not win. And for an American president to openly undermine many of the nation’s sacred institutions, asserting power not granted to him in the Constitution, without consequence, has prompted millions of Americans to question—what if democracy fails?
It is not hyperbole. Four more years moving in the same direction could have catastrophic consequences.
The 2020 election cannot be more urgent. Americans must choose either the present course or opt to dramatically change the direction of the nation. The Biden/Harris ticket stands in stark contrast to the current administration.
Even when presented with an opportunity to clarify a vision for the next four years, Trump has been incapable of providing one. Instead, we continue to be confronted with fear, anger, blame, flat out lies and threats. The absence of any tangible, concrete measures to address the nations’ multiple, simultaneous crisis, one might assume, would make the choice a no-brainer as the past four years has been a constant barrage of deflections, spin, detractions and scandal.
By contrast, Joe Biden’s remarks during his acceptance address began with inclusiveness and hope. It’s the first time the American people are hearing themes of togetherness.
“Ella Baker, a giant of the Rights Movement, left us with this wisdom: give people light and they will find a way,” he said. “I am a proud Democrat, but I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who did not support me as I will for those who did.”
His historic selection of Kamala Harris, a woman of black and Indian ancestry, has been well received throughout the party. Many hale the decision saying that it represents the diversity of the country and speaks volumes about the inclusiveness of the Biden campaign.
Harris, the former San Francisco District Attorney, California Attorney General and U.S. Senator has infused excitement and promise into the 2020 campaign. As a woman of color, the weight of the moment is not lost on her.
“I stand on the shoulders of pioneering women like Mary Church Terrell, Mary McCleod-Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, Constance Baker and the great Shirley Chisholm,” Harris said.
If elected, Biden and Harris will have multiple issues to address before they can even begin to implement their comprehensive plans.
It is not hard for Americans to find the darkness of hate, division and a total lack of planning in the current White House. The issues created by Trump may take the next president years, if not decades, to repair.
However, this Democratic ticket seems ready.
The Biden/Harris campaign has released, what appears to be, a detailed plan to rebuild the American infrastructure which would potentially generate millions of jobs across the board, fight and defeat Covid-19, rebuild small businesses, and invest in minority communities. The Build Back Better campaign announced by Biden will focus on providing state, local and native governments with the funds needed to save the jobs of essential workers like teachers, police and firefighters.
The plan would extend unemployment insurance to help stabilize families who are currently out of work as result of Covid-19 and create a so-called comeback fund to shore up small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Here is some of what the Biden/Harris platform includes:
Manufacturing and Innovation — This includes plans to build a strong industrial base led by a small business led supply chain; the focus to invigorate unions and work to create jobs that pay a wage that a family can live on.
Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future — The goal is to build a resilient economy for the long term. It includes investments in modern, sustainable infrastructure with new roads, bridges, airports, energy grids and universal broadband. The plan will address the climate crisis by building a clean energy economy and address environmental injustice.
Caregiving and Education Workforce—Biden plans to ease the burden of affordable childcare on working parents, especially women. His plan also will focus on caring for aging relatives and those with disabilities to have better access to home and community-based care. He wants to elevate the pay for professionals like caregivers and educators.
Racial Equity—Biden plans to launch a dedicated agenda to close the wealth gap, expand affordable housing and invest in black, Latino and Native American businesses and communities. He wants to advance policing and criminal justice reform along with a real promise of educational opportunity regardless of race or zip code.
Biden/Harris will also move to pass the Protecting the right to Organize (PRO) Act. This will give public service and federal government workers the right for collective bargaining through strong unions. Additional plans include addressing discrimination and harassment in the workplace and passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in an effort ensure that women are paid equally for equal work.
It does not stop there. A Biden/Harris administration will seek universal paid sick leave and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. This will be in addition to making sure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care along with providing a public option and lowering the care and prescription drugs.
The proposed investments, the candidate suggests, will come from ensuring that corporate America pays their fair share in taxes. He proposes to reverse the Trump tax cuts and impose “common sense” tax reforms that will require the wealthiest 1% to pay their fair share. The plan also includes helping small businesses manage through the pandemic and recover so that millions of business owners can get back on their feet and move the economy forward.
With a consumer-based economy, the U.S. depends on robust spending. Therefore, the current high rate of unemployment means lower demand. The answer is a vigorous jobs agenda. The Biden/Harris agenda believes that failure to make the necessary, far reaching investments the long-term growth of the American economy will be undermined.
However, many argue that the country cannot afford to invest so heavily in jobs creation. Not surprisingly, they are the same people who have been able to find trillions to the wealthy and corporations over the past three years.
In the wake of nearly six million Americans infected with Covid-19 and almost 180,000 people dead the Trump Administration rarely mentions the pandemic—as if to suggest that if we ignore it, the virus will magically disappear. Rather, the current president continues to push unproven and dangerous remedies such as Hydrochloriquine, ingesting bleach and household disinfectants into the human body and more recently blood plasma from previously infected patients.
The Biden/Harris team has presented a comprehensive plan with five basic components. 1) test and trace; 2) sufficient personal protective equipment; 3) science-based treatments and vaccines; 4) steps to reopen safely and effectively; and 5) protecting those at high risk, including elderly Americans.
Additionally, the Biden/Harris campaign plans to create a Pandemic Testing Board in order to provide a massive nationwide surge in free, reliable testing for all Americans including those workers being called back to work. The plan also includes a doubling of the drive through testing sites to reduce backlog. Finally, they propose a national contact tracing workforce of 100,000 and equipping under-sourced public health departments with the resources needed to spot and stop outbreaks.
Failure of the country to change direction at this critical juncture portends a future that most Americans can’t imagine. According to Joe Biden, it’s all on the line.
“Character is on the ballot, decency is on the ballot, compassion is on the ballot, science is on the ballot and democracy is on the ballot,” Biden told the American public.
Thus, the question of “What if Democracy Fails,” is not an over-exaggeration—here’s a brief list of what the current administration has done to weaken the American system:
Defy the Supreme Court. Despite a recent court ruling in favor of DACA, the Trump Administration continues to reject new applications designed to allow work permits and protection from deportation from DACA students.
Bypass Congressional Authority. Over and over again since Trump was elected, he has sought to go around Congress’s authority through the signing of executive orders and other administrative actions. The administration has adopted a position of congressional obstruction and no-cooperation into federal investigations with the legislative branch. This is in direct violation of Congress’s constitutionally granted powers.
Weaponize the Justice Department. The appointment of Bill Barr as Attorney General has proven that the alleged independent agency has become little more than a tool for the president to pardon his criminal friends and punish his enemies. The humiliation of Jeff Sessions because he appropriately recused himself from the Russia investigations was an indication of Trump’s expectations of the Justice Department.
Demand complicity of the FBI Director. FBI director James Comey was ordered by Trump to cease an investigation into National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Flynn was the first of several Trump officials to plead guilty to a crime. It was uncovered during the Mueller investigation that Flynn lied about his knowledge of Russia’s attempts to influence the U.S. Presidential election in 2016. He fired Comey when he refused.
Undermine the First Amendment. Trump has on more than one occasion sought to impose censorship and silence the press, particularly news that is unfavorable to him. He has imposed financial pressure on independent news organizations to either run them out of business or force them into the hands of owners friendly to him. He sought to block the merger between AT&T and Time Warner in an attempt to sell CNN to ultra conservative media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch. His assertion that the press is an “enemy of the state,” is directly out of the dictator’s handbook.
Reveal Intelligence Sources. Upon finding out that the FBI had a source that was gathering intelligence on Russian contacts with his campaign, Trump illegally ordered the agency to publicly name the source. Later the individual’s name was leaked by several news organizations. His actions stand in contrast to a 1982 law against revealing intelligence sources. According to a statement from FBI Director Christopher Wray, “The day that we cannot protect our human sources is the day that the U.S. becomes less safe.”
Mix Private Business with Government Business. In the past, presidents would sell any financial stakes in their businesses or place them in a blind trust in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. In contrast, Trump has maintained control over his businesses by placing his politically active sons in charge. The Trump organization received a $500 million loan for a project in Indonesia and immediately lifted sanctions on China’s telecom firm ZTE. While this is in direct violation of the Emoluments Clause, no investigations were launched.
Place Family Members in Key Government Roles. Following the Kennedy Administration when JFK appointed his brother Attorney General, Congress enacted the anti-nepotism law of 1967. Trump claims the law does not apply to White House staff based on a questionable legal interpretation. He has provided daughter Ivanka with an office in the West Wing of the White House and a top security clearance. Ivanka has not been required to give up her business interests. Trump has also appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner as chief adviser to Canada, Mexico, China, and the Middle East; he has no discernable background or experience.
Demonstrate Complete Ignorance of Public Policy. Trump is well known for his lack of knowledge of many domestic and international policies and agreements. A senior European diplomat expressed, after a meeting with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that Trump knew nothing about an impending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. He also was clueless about Russian exploits in Ukraine or a recent agreement with Minsk. They preferred to actually deal with Ivanka instead because she seemed, “better prepared.”
Place Open Racists in Charge of the White House. Trump selected the recently arrested “alt-right”, anti-Semitic webmaster, Steve Bannon, as his chief White House strategist. He tapped a general with clear anti-Muslim leanings as National Security Adviser. His senior adviser for policy is reportedly a white supremacist giving rise to the infamous Charlottesville claim of “good people on both sides.”
The results of the 2020 presidential election will determine whether America continues to be a democracy or something unrecognizable to the vast majority of her citizens. Therefore, a vote for Biden/Harris may represent our last best chance to save the soul of the nation.