As the 2020 presidential election campaign entered its final week this Tuesday, fierce campaigning on both sides helped to reveal the parameters of what most Americans — as evidenced by the record turnouts in early voting — recognize to be an existential turning point.
The United States of America, founded by insurrectionists who were determined to end the exercise of arbitrary, cruel and selfish rule by despots over the general public 250 years ago, has been challenged in the last four years to throw off a latter day attempt at despotic restoration, and is on the verge of a profound reclamation that can propel the causes of sweet justice and virtue ahead for generations.
The particular outcome of next Tuesday’s election is an important inflection point in this process, but what has been unleashed over the last years is something that resonates deep in the bowels of our stunning universe, amplifying the songs of planetary motions and our deepest personal emotions, simultaneously. Not just the heavens, as Haydn celebrated The Creation, but in our innermost souls proclaim the glory of that which unfolds our miraculous creation in the direction of words we earthlings use to describe justice, virtue, compassion, equality, empathy and so much more.
Beautiful music, not just any music but beautiful, heroic music must fill the land, from the mountains to the prairies and from sea to shining sea, if the outcome of the presidential election next Tuesday turns out as it appears now it will.
Going into this final week before Nov. 3, the campaign of Joe Biden, augmented so well by his long-time sidekick Barack Obama, struck the themes of love and virtue so well, creating such a stark contrast to the cruel and bitter bleatings of the con man so profoundly exposed, and the many sad and twisted faces that were duped, that or through personal greed and avarice, chose to hitch their destinies to his woeful demise.
This Tuesday in Florida, former president Obama delivered one of the most powerful and meaningful speeches of his storied oratorical career. He delivered with such power and such certainty, the kind of certainty that has the power of creation itself behind it, about the contrast between men of virtue like Biden and men devoid of virtue, like Trump.
Speaking of our democratic nation, he said, “Our true strength comes from setting an example that the rest of the world wants to follow.”
Trump has no idea what the devil he’s talking about. Strength? That comes from power and power comes from crushing your competition. That’s the core calculus of the sociopath, of Trump, who can’t even consider that there is another way to go about things.
To Trump, there are only winners and losers, a “zero sum game.” This insanity has held the upper hand in human conflicts far too often in our violent history. Yet, there is the alternative, derived from a different compendium of values, those Plato and others taught, of the, for a better way of putting it, the “win-win.”
“In war, there are no winners and losers, only widows,” they say. Everything that Trump has stood for in his tyranny has been shaped by that, and he has made his peace with strewing our landscape with widows and orphans on a level, due to the virus and other factors, not seen since the last great world war.
So, in speaking at Warm Springs, Georgia, Tuesday, in memory of the great FDR who led America through that last great war as a bastion for democracy, fairness, science and justice, Biden spoke of FDR’s overcoming personal adversity that led him to seek therapy for his polio in those Warm Springs, where he cultivated such loving friendships with many others afflicted as himself, and from which grew his passion for the healing of persons that undergirded so much of what he stood for.
Trump came out of that period aligned with the fascist enemies of FDR and his New Deal to grow into a phony populism appealing to the lowest and basest of human hatreds.
How true are these choices before us in this coming week! How time to strike mightily for the good!
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]