The perils, and the imperative, of the high road

Dear President Biden,

I hope you had a good day today ahead of your dance tomorrow with Vladimir the grizzly. This isn’t the insight of the century or anything, but reading about his basic approach to gaining and retaining power – no holds barred and free rein to be as unprincipled and ruthless as his imagination can conjure – reminds me of Mitch McConnell and the other GOP democracy-assassins. I’m not so naïve as to think that you, the Democrats, and the leaders of the other major Western (for-now) democracies are all pure, shiny paragons of virtue, but if one side is publicly devoted to upholding humane principles and ethics and the other side is publicly devoted to trashing them, it’s kind of a “holy mother of God” sort of situation, isn’t it?

What tipped it over for me was reading the WP piece about how high the stakes are for your summit with VP and specifically how your super power is your empathy, which most everyone agrees will have no effect on VP whatsoever and may well be used against you.

The article didn’t take things in this specific direction, but the fundamental question it brought up for me is how does one stay true to oneself – how do you stay true to yourself – when the stakes are insanely high and there is someone you have to deal with who’s hell bent on thwarting and undermining you however they can, in as many ways as they can, and they’ve broadcast this intention to the whole world? (As per the first paragraph, I think VP and MMc are interchangeable in this.)

In a nutshell – how does one maintain one’s integrity while trying to maximize the chances of being effective in situations like these?

You can’t very well just park your ethics for a sec’ since adopting a “the means justify the ends” sort of approach is a slippery slope that could easily leave you in a moral morass that would be indefensible (and you know that both VP and MMc would use it against you in a heartbeat). But you also can’t just hope that your superior good karma or that some God-like figure on high will allow you and righteousness to prevail.

I know it probably seems like I’m being flippant in asking you these questions, but I really would like to know.

There was many a time that I wished I could be a “fly on the wall” during DJT’s hellacious rein so I could witness what was going on in his interactions with others, but now I wish I could do a Vulcan mind-meld, or something like that, with you to get a sense of what your strategy is with VP and with the menace that is MMc. It might be sufficient to just get a look at your journal, if you keep one, or to have an off-the-record conversation with you about it, but I think it would be most informative to get a peek into your actual thinking on all this.

And just to be clear, I never once wanted inside of DJT’s head or to be able to access his actual thoughts – such an idea is absolutely repugnant to me. Moreover, I seriously doubt it would have been at all informative…..

In contrast, however, you really seem like a decent human being and you couldn’t have gotten where you are without a lot of political savvy so an inside peek into how you’re managing the stress and what it is you’re planning to do to hold your own with VP and MMc would be amazing. I promise I wouldn’t tell anyone. I’m really good at keeping things private. And, while I won’t be holding my breath on the mind-meld idea, I will be watching carefully to see if I can get a sense of your strategy.

May we be safe from the ruthlessly unprincipled among us.
May we avoid being pulled into the moral morass with them.
May we intentionally exercise our ethical muscles so they stay strong and healthy.
May we accept the challenges that our existential struggles are posing and may we meet them on the high road.

Tracy Simpson

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