It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities.”
Familiar to most and one of the greatest opening paragraphs in Western literature, it sums up our current condition. I was reminded of these words when Andrea Olsen, a state representative and Democrat from Missoula, posted them on her Facebook page.
Then there’s this quote, from Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
“I’ve been disgusted with the behavior of my Democratic colleagues these past few months. They once again put their partisan agenda above the needs of the American people. Democrats have made clear that their #1 goal is removing me from office and replacing me with a radical liberal.”
A “radical liberal.” I’d like to meet one of those someday. Looks like Mitch is leaning toward foolishness, incredulity, darkness and despair. So much for the bipartisanship and leadership that will shepherd us through these perilous times.
This post began as thoughts on unity and missed opportunities, which will follow after these unfortunate GOP quotes (caps and italics theirs):
“The Democrats’ recent behavior is a NATIONAL DISGRACE!” U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
“They hate President Trump so much that they’d rather see America suffer,” Congressional candidate Chris Cox (R-SC).
“In a time of national emergency, Nancy Pelosi once again chose politics over getting the American people what they need,” U.S. Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA).
Nancy Pelosi is a recurring theme in the Republican fundraising appeals I’ve received — that and jabs at the fake news media, socialism and the Green New Deal.
A smart, strong woman who dares confront Trump is red meat for Republicans, and the name Pelosi is their dog whistle.
Then there are the attacks on the “fake news media” (or “lamestream media,” as Republicans also refer to it). That would be the journalists who are informing and assisting us during the pandemic, and we hope, keeping tabs on various government institutions.
Following “fake news” is that damn “socialism,” which is ruining America. Here are some examples, as the Des Moines Register reports, that are in play today:
Congress approved an emergency spending package for unemployment insurance, free testing for the coronavirus, more funding for food stamps, and a requirement that businesses with fewer than 500 employees provide both family medical leave and paid sick days.
That’s just some of the horrible “socialism.” It also includes stimulus checks, small business loans and more funding for our health care system.
As the pandemic slowly wends its way down, opportunities will present themselves and we’ll see if, as a nation, we have learned anything.
One would believe that universal health care instead of an expensive, for profit, disparate system of providers would finally win the day.
There might not be a better time to enact the Green New Deal with its clean energy jobs: installing solar panels and wind turbines, updating home and business sustainability, and rebuilding the grid. This should be the window to to wean ourselves off the volatile, climate-changing fossil fuel industry.
These are some of the missed opportunities. The chance to be the good guy, not just the in the U.S. but in the world: to be a real leader. How about dropping the sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, even North Korea, so that fewer people suffer and we actually regain some respect and admiration on the global stage?
It’s our chance to reach across borders because, after all, a pandemic is defined as “a disease that is prevalent throughout the world.” Perhaps we should put the world, dare I say humanity, first.
Considering the current administration and the GOP talking points that are flooding my inbox, it’s difficult to believe that our better selves will prevail — that America can indeed be a great, compassionate nation — and whether this will be our “spring of hope” or our “winter of despair.”