Where were you the morning of Saturday November 7 when you heard that the 2020 presidential election had finally been called in favor of Joe Biden?
All of us who struggled for the past four years with despair, disgust and outrage at what our country had become under Donald Trump will long remember this moment —where we were, what we were doing, how the news reached us.
Even though the likelihood of Trump’s defeat was increasing in the hours and days after the closing of the polls on November 4, the numbers were still close, and nothing was certain yet.
For me, the moment came as I was checking my email Saturday morning, and saw a brief emotional message from one of our old family friends in Europe, Paul Trân Van-Thinh, former E.U. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization: “My U.S.A. is back!!!!” …
The fate of the nation hangs on this year’s Presidential and Congressional election results. But democracy is also about tending to local decisions.
How the Democratic Convention Reframed the Stakes of the 2020 Election
At first there was something unreal about watching the unprecedented virtual convention unroll, without the high-density crowds milling about, the roars of applause, the grandstanding speeches, the show-biz fanfare.
How could an American political convention succeed in stirring the hearts and minds of voters, and create commitment to the party’s vision, without the familiar large-scale theatricals we have become used to as part of our political culture?
But stir and create commitment it did. Superbly. …
The two weeks that started on May 25 in Minneapolis, with George Floyd’s dying cry ‘I can’t breathe,’ and ended with his nationally broadcast funeral in Houston on June 9, have felt like a revolution. An astonishing and long overdue national awakening.
In the first week, the protests were somber, grief-filled, angry, despairing, fearful. An immense outpouring of anguish.
But then something happened.
The protestors kept coming. More and more of them, from a wide cross-sectional swath of our population — Blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, young and old, students, workers, families with children, city people, suburbanites, small down dwellers. …
The brutal murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police on May 25 has unleashed a torrent of anger and sorrow, and we Americans are forced to face once again the virus that has plagued our nation since its inception.
For those who have long been the victims of this racism virus, or are sufficiently aware of its lethal power, what happened in Minneapolis and elsewhere last week is not shocking news.
It’s the underlying reality you have to live with every day if you’re black, even when things are calm, and your immediate environment and personal circumstances are fairly benign. It’s the reality that, if you’re black, you can’t count on equal protection of the law and equality of opportunity — even after all the strides made since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. …
Leadership Voices in a Time of Pandemic
It wasn’t until I heard Queen Elizabeth’s April 5 address, and started following California Governor Gavin Newsom’s daily Coronavirus briefings, that I realized how much we need to hear genuine leadership voices during times of peril.
Queen Elizabeth’s televised speech on the Coronavirus crisis — a whole long month ago — was directed at the people of the U.K. The immediate context was the news that both the British Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales were infected. It was broadcast around the world, however, and spoke eloquently to many in other countries.
I know it spoke to this American, who has a strong sense of both our own history and that of the remarkable island nation we revolted against two and a half centuries ago. …
The headlines focus on the magnitude of the Coronavirus crisis and the places most threatened. But there are less dramatic experiences too.
I live in one of the older inner suburbs that nestle in the hills east of San Francisco Bay. It’s an area of single moderately sized family homes, built in the 1940s and 50s, unpretentious though high-priced nowadays, with small low-maintenance gardens.
Neighbors are in comfortable but not dangerous proximity to one another. When we step out of our homes, we’re able to move about without much chance of breaking the six-feet-of-separation guideline.
We’re a long way from the high-rises and population density of New York, London, Hong Kong, Milan, or even from the downtown sections of San Francisco and nearby Oakland, not to speak of the crowded mega-cities of India and elsewhere that are only beginning to experience the virus. …
Most of us in open societies at peace have rarely, if ever, had limitations placed on getting out of our homes, moving about and mingling freely.
The coronavirus pandemic is shaking to the roots our complacency about everyday safety, predictability, the ability of our institutions to protect us, personal control over our lives, doing whatever we want to do, and our ability to ‘take care of ourselves’ without the help of others. That’s the big picture.
The more immediate picture is that, as we start to hunker down in our homes for an indefinite period of time, we’re going stir-crazy! If we’re among the lucky ones able to do this without immediately running out of money, we’re still going stir-crazy, getting grumpy, and basically at loose ends. …
Whatever our age or generation, the November 2020 U.S. elections will be the most consequential political decision moment of our lifetime.
Face it. Ponder on it. Believe it. Face the fear. Embrace the hope. Above all, commit to making a difference in the outcome of these elections.Don’t sit this one out. “People who agonize don’t act. People who act don’t agonize” (Pierre Sauvage, Weapons of the Spirit). “Decisions are made by those who show up” (Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing).
Don’t fall into the lazy trap of bathing passively in daily outrage at President Trump’s latest horror, or consoling yourself with the latest witty takedown of his malevolent antics by our gifted comedians. Don’t lament, complain and helplessly wring your hands. Get involved. Do your part. Engage. …
There’s something at once exhilarating and ominous about the atmospherics of California in September and October.
Those of us who live here recognize, with equal parts joy and fear, the subtle changes in our seemingly placid climate that signal the post-Labor Day shift from from summer to fall.
The cumulative effect of more than six months without rain stressing all vegetation not kept green by watering. The feeling of dryness in the air we breathe and the thirst of our skins. The slanting autumn light that gives everything we see a sharper, less diffuse quality, and can almost blind us in the early mornings and late afternoons. …