Compare and Contrast – Guest Essay


Reading time – 4:39  .  .  .

Immediately following the DNC convention and Joe BIden’s speech, regular reader and sometimes commenter Dan Giallombardo felt the need to put his reactions in writing. He gave me permission to show you his offering in this guest essay. It’s being posted today both so that you can appreciate his message and to see it in contrast to four days of the RNC/Trump hatefest. Keep in mind that Dan is a veteran of decades of political contests, so he knows what he’s seeing. Many thanks to Dan for his essay.

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Over the past three years and eight months a dark, sinister veil has fallen over the United States. Once our prestige in the international community was unchallenged. Now we are viewed as a “has been,” and “fools in the marketplace.” We have a president who is viewed as an amoral clown, a carnival barker for the Big Con.

Tonight, Joe Biden accepted the Democratic party’s nomination for President of the United States and the first small beams of light came through the darkness – the first small rays of light in a long, dark and bitterly cold night. Tonight, Joe Biden reminded us of what hope looks like. In 1972, RIchard Nixon won the election with 60.7% of the vote. Were the election held today, based on his acceptance speech, Biden’s victory would make Nixon’s win a Presidential footnote.

But the election is still 73 days away. A lot can happen in that amount of time. We must not be given to the illusion that because Biden is ahead in the polls that this election will be an easy, dignified one. It’s not going to be. It will be an alley fight wherein we will scratch and claw for every vote we can find.

Donald Trump is not a man of graceful action. He will fight for this, and he will lie about everything. I worry that he and Barr have cooked up some “October surprise” for us. We must be vigilant and guard against that.

Biden’s Thursday night speech reminded me of the title of the  book by President Barrack Obama: The Audacity of Hope; that’s what Biden was offering us. His vision of hope and the confidence he has in the American people—all of us—black, brown, yellow white, red, we are all  members of this Great Republic in which we are so fortunate to live. But Joe Biden also reminded us of the gravity of President Obama’s words the night before: if we re-elect Trump, it will be the end of our democracy. Not an idea to be taken lightly, but neither is Trump.

Like a wounded animal he will try everything to win. And like a wounded animal, he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. As long as Donald is on top, which brings up another point.

Over 170,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. Joe Biden mourns with them; he has a far too intimate experience with the kind of grief that comes from having one’s family torn apart. He mourns for them; he mourns with them. It’s called empathy. The current occupant of the Oval Office dismisses these deaths with a glib remark: “It is what it is.” Nowhere near my idea of leadership.

The man who tonight began to show us the light in the darkness, took to task the “bone-spur-cadet” in the White House. For five months the US has battled for its life against Covid-19, as the man in the Oval Office has used braggadocio and lies to con the American people into believing that he’s very effectively dealing with the crisis and “We’re making great progress with a vaccine.”

Joe Biden addressed that issue in his speech; he spoke of what he would do to stop the virus. Biden has a plan; not bragging, not lying; a plan to fight and beat the virus. A virus that has killed over 170,000 Americans; ONE-HUNDRED-SEVENTY-THOUSAND AMERICANS. No matter how you present that number it comes out obscene.

In a speech that pushed back some of  the darkness, Biden rightly raged at the indifference shown by the current administration to the bounties placed on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan. He pointedly referred to the current occupant of the Oval Office—just in case there was ever any doubt about who he was rightly accusing.

For those of us fortunate to have been alive during the administration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, we have the memory of how he made us feel. He brought vigor, vision and leadership to the office of the President, not cheeseburgers and Cokes. When Kennedy spoke the world listened. When Trump speaks the world places its collective hand over its mouth so as not to be seen laughing.

John Kennedy was blessed with eloquence. In his inaugural speech, he made reference to “the torch;” he was referring to the torch of liberty; the same one that is held high by the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. His words still ring out: “Let the word go forth, from this time and place, that the torch has been passed  .  .  .”

Today we are the bearers of that torch. It is incumbent upon us to keep it burning, up to us to pass it on to those who follow us. We are creating their tomorrow right now.

Finally,

Motivational speaker Les Brown used to say, “You have to know what you stand for, or you’ll fall for anything.” He was right of course, and these times are just like all others, in that we are always being tested. The world challenges us to know what we stand for. In these dangerous times, it’s especially important to be clear.

Jacob Blake, a Black father in Kenosha, WI, was gunned down at point blank range; the White officer had a grip on Blake’s shirt as he fired his gun. The cop shot Blake in the back seven times. Blake was unarmed and posed no risk of violence, yet was shot right in front of his three children. What would you do if Blake were a friend of yours? What would you do if you were horrified that one of yours – a fellow human being – had been maliciously gunned down?

The NBA playoffs are ongoing, but the players know this injustice and they just wouldn’t have it. They walked out, refusing to play game 2 on Wednesday night, this as a statement of protest, as well as showing solidarity with the victim of this police violence, as well as with his family and against racial injustice. These men know what they stand for and they’re telling us about it publicly.

Ignore for the moment the galactically cynical, mean spirited comments of presidential whisperer Jared Kushner that somehow managed to conflate the NBA players’ statement of principle about racial injustice with their salaries. And ignore Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short’s whataboutism, whining that the NBA players didn’t protest things China has done. Yes, he really did say that. Clearly we know what those two stand for. Let me put this into proper context for them and all who are objecting to protests by sports figures.

People are being shot and strangled and beaten by cops and vigilantes every day. Some people of principle are speaking out – and you’re whining because you can’t watch a basketball game. Get a grip on reality and try to imagine that the world is not solely about you.

We are each called to know what we stand for and to stand up and be counted over and over. We know that there’s nothing new in cops killing unarmed Blacks. What’s new is video showing the true horror of what goes on regularly. We cannot unlearn what we have learned. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and now Jacob Blake are real people, not some ink on a newspaper page or a brief mention on the 10:00 o’clock news. It’s time for all of us to stand and be counted, like the NBA players and the crowds of protesters in every city in America and around the world in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, lest we fall for something terribly sinister and awful.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
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JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
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4 Responses to Compare and Contrast – Guest Essay
  1. Jim Altschuler Reply

    Masterfully stated, Dan Giallombardo. I hope you won’t be offended by another’s additional commentary.

    It is city cops, county cops and sheriffs and even state police officers who have committed the atrocities on black AND brown people, mostly men. HOWEVER, this is Not to say that all law enforcement personnel are Bad Cops. There are a lot of good ones — many women & men — who pull injured people from collisions and building fires, who clear the windpipes of choking people and children, who transport stranded seniors, who show up at local fairs and celebrations, who often show up on their own time, no compensation (rarely even a “Thank you”) to make sure everyone in attendance is safe, and so on and so on. These unsung heroes aren’t the ones who make the 30-second news blurb or the 1/4″, 2 line page 17 comment.

    The ones we hear about and see posted horribly are the few bad ones. If you have doubts, I understand. Tell a lie often enough, with enough sincerity, and people Will believe it; when all that the American people hear about are people shot by cops even when the victims don’t have a weapons, that will be the viewpoint of the American people. It’s all they see, all they know about police officers.

    Look beyond the Trumpian-style subterfuge. You’ll find a lot of caring, helpful good guys.

  2. John Calia Reply

    This is a very emotional post and I agree with much of the criticisms of Trump. But you have ignored one very insidious set of facts. Biden has given in to the left wing of his party. Electing Biden will open the door to a damaging agenda that will destroy the exceptional American system of economic freedom. Trump is just the devil we know. Biden, the devil we don’t.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      It’s a guess as to what Biden will actually do, in contrast to Trump – we already know what he will do.

      Biden has been mostly a centrist. While he’s made rhetorical outreach to the left, his natural position is in the middle. I don’t imagine much lefty movement of healthcare, for example, beyond fortifying the ACA. Indeed, that’s what he has said he’d do. I Haven’t heard him spout anything about M4A and even Bernie acknowledges that.

      Not clear what Biden might do to destroy our system of economic freedom.

  3. Anastasia Gonzalez Reply

    Excellent!!!!! Powerful essay that brought tears to my eyes. I saw the glimmer of light from hearing Joe Biden’s acceptance speech and I felt safe for the first time in months!!
    Thank you Dan! Well written and this expresses how many of us feel as all of this rolls out! Thank you Jack for posting this. I know what I stand for!!!!