Dear President Biden,
I’m reading Alyssa Rosenberg’s WP editorial about how many of us are apt to engage in highly problematic hero worship when it comes to elected officials. So far she’s already taken apart the ‘Cuomosexual’ phenomenon, which I’m grateful to say I somehow completely missed, as well as the Ruth Bader Ginsberg ‘Notorious RBG’ phenomenon, which of course, I didn’t miss.
Now she’s moved on to Trump.
In describing how his political rallies had (and continue to have) the feel of huge stadium concerts with all the exciting, seductive appeal of going to see one’s VERY-favorite-of-all-times band, she quotes Matt Lewis as saying:
“The attendant friends, activity, music (Trump rallies had a concert-like feel), T-shirts with inside jokes, and circus-like excitement all contributed to the delusion that you were part of a large and important subculture.”
I’m sharing all of this with you for two simple reasons:
- First, when I initially read the above quote I mistook “circus-like excitement” for “circus-like excrement” and almost made myself choke on my tea. Even though I figured out my mistake immediately, I think my little subconscious brain had it right except in so far as it’s highly unfair to elephants and lions to liken their poop to the shit Trump spewed (and spews) – theirs could be composted and turned into something useful while his will continue to poison everything and everyone upstream and downstream for generations.
- The second reason to bring up this unhealthy star-struck relationship some have to politicians (and judges) is that I somehow don’t think you’re at risk of this. Yes, you do cultivate the ‘Uncle Joe’ persona with your downhome speech and your empathy, but you aren’t in the least flashy (shades aside) and there’s just not anything about you that cries out for adulation.
And that’s a very good thing.
As Rosenberg points out, we need to relate to our elected officials as our elected officials, not as saviors or stars because we need to be able to critique you all – tell you when we think you get things right and more importantly, tell you when we think you get things wrong. Hard to do that with saviors and stars….
So here’s a bit of each for you. First a prop – good on you for getting Klain to talk with Tribe to find a way around the Supreme Court quash of the existing eviction moratorium — that was brilliant! And good on you for listening to Cori Bush in the first place and for getting that millions of people need you all to get creative when it comes to protecting them.
And, here’s the critique…. Time is ticking on Congress’s opportunity to save democracy and from here, it’s not looking like you’re doing much on that front to help. If you all don’t step it up and get Manchin and Sinema, and whomever else needs persuading, to get on board with robust versions of HR1 and For the People, no amount of brilliant Constitutional finesse is going to save us.
So, Mr. President – Joe Biden, elected official who is in office at the pleasure of the people – we need you to do what we elected you to do. We need you to protect and serve not only individuals in the here and now, but we need you to protect and preserve the Constitutional amendments, which, however imperfectly, safeguard voting rights. If you don’t, it won’t matter what other terrific things you might do because the GOP will see to it that our “democracy” indeed reverts to its original blatantly racist, sexist programming, which was specifically designed to prop up wealthy White men at everyone else’s expense.
You know it, I know it, Mitch McConnell knows it, and Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin know it.
May we all be safe from politicians who inspire hero worship-y devotion.
May we stay clear of politicians who create circus-like excrement.
May we hold fast and strong to the idea that our elected officials must serve the greater good.
May we accept that we don’t have time to mess around.