One of my favorite political blogs is Agents of Reason by the always insightful Bill Clontz. Bill is a neighbor and a friend. He has an extraordinarily diverse background, retiring from the United States Army as a Colonel after working his way up the enlisted and officer corps ranks. His education includes a Masters in Public Administration. He was a National Security Fellow at the Brookings Institute, and an Army Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He also served as the Military Chief of Staff to Madeleine Albright during her time as Ambassador to the United Nations. The following is an excerpt from his post-election post, with an excerpt of the reply I posted on his site.
Are We Having Fun Yet? Is It Over?
By Bill Clontz
One may be forgiven for asking either or both of these questions about the 2020 elections. At various times in recent weeks, the answer to the first question for many of us has been “Not YET!”, followed by “Yeah! – Sort Of!” For the second question, mercifully, it seems about over. But Trump has over 70 days of potential mischief to play around with and some races are close, so don’t relax yet. Biden sees how dangerous that is.
Still, the momentum to move on is gathering a full head of steam. Biden and Harris gave gracious and excellent acceptance speeches on Saturday night. People in the current White House are looking for and positioning for new jobs. Biden is appointing his first commission on Monday. Transition work is well underway. A small group is trying to explain to Trump this is not the time to make an ass of himself. Good luck with that.
Snakes, Rocks, and Sunlight
Many of us have lamented that millions of Americans voted for Trump. Knowing full well who and what he is this time, they still chose to vote for Trump. It hurts your heart to contemplate this. But a wise observer has noted something important. Every ugly thing Trump fanned (racism, nationalism, religious bigotry, etc.) has always been present in our country, as in others.
This is not a new set of problems. The challenge now is to reestablish that this sort of thing is not OK, that it will be called out and confronted. Go back under your rock, snakes who foster such evil. You need to go hide and leave the people alone.
We cannot cure this sort of mindset, but we can thin its ranks and make it the pariah it deserves to be.
Real Challenges Remain
If the Democrats are good at anything, it is infighting. Biden’s instincts are good for what can be accomplished, and his heart is in the right place on many issues. If centrists and leftists in the party start an early civil war on agendas, the setup for midterm failures will be up and running. Let’s not do that.
Biden has made his priorities clear. Topping the list are the pandemic and the economy; investing in infrastructure (including broadband internet); moving the national discussion on inequality on the basis of race and other factors. While working on all that, rejoin the rest of the world. Reassure our allies, put our competitors on notice.
My Response to Bill’s Post
(To see the entire Bill Clontz post and the full text of my response go to agentsofreason.com)
Thanks, Bill. This post is a classic, marked by both chuckle-producing wit and a well of deep wisdom. Here are other questions we should be asking: “Are we ready to get to work, to come together around a common agenda? Are we ready to push the Trump years into the historical purgatory reserved for leaders who dwell in a pit of lies, racism, misogyny, ignorance and self-serving brutish behavior? Are we ready to work for common good by finding common ground rather than standing firmly on our own faction’s ideological biases?
You really nailed it when you wrote, “If the Democrats are good at anything, it is infighting… If the centrists and leftists in the party start an early civil war on agendas, the prelude for midterm failures will be up and running. Let’s not do that.”
This is particularly important to keep in mind when you consider what is on the line in 2022. There will be 34 Senate seats up, and as of today 21 of those are held by Republicans. At least three are excellent targets for take over: North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Incumbents in the first two are retiring and the seats will be open, and the third is in a state Biden won. In addition, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is currently in a runoff and will certainly be a target in two years if she wins in January.
This presents an opportunity to earn a Democratic majority for the last two years of the administration. To seize that opportunity, we need a party united around a positive agenda, a party that produces results in the next two years that will encourage Americans to return to the ballot box and complete the political transformation of our nation.
Bill Jamieson’s career has included leadership positions in business, government, and education. He was also an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and his ministry centered around advocacy for low-income families and children.