Biden’s Speech

Can we go back to our regular lives now?

The first inauguration I remember watching was back in 1961, with President Kennedy. We were in a cold war. The Russians were beating us in space. America was being tested. It was a battle between the old and the new. And the new had won.

In more ways than one. Kennedy refused to wear a hat, killing that business overnight. But he also looked to the future. It was bright, but it had challenges. And we all had to work together to make our country better.

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

That ethos started to evaporate in the seventies, and it was excised from the fabric of our nation in the eighties, when greed became good and income inequality began to accelerate. We forgot about people, souls, and focused on wealth accumulation, believing if we did not get ours, someone else would take it.

“Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

Britain exits the E.U. The U.S. exits one international organization after another. As if we can make it alone. We’re intertwined, not only economically, but as human beings inhabiting a planet in peril, where religious wars kill innocent people and those without purchase become radicalized. It is not the sixties any longer.

I watched JFK’s inauguration because it was a snow day. But it rarely snows anymore. Sure, it’s good that we have Zoom, that we can connect in spite of the weather, but winters are shorter, and our entire ecosystem is screwed-up. Try living in the west, water is precious, and oftentimes just a trickle. But maybe you live elsewhere…where hurricanes are rampant and fracking might cause an earthquake. Progress is always a balance. But the move to electric automobiles will be a great boon to this planet, for they are much more efficient than those powered by internal combustion, which dispenses so much of its energy as useless heat.

So now it’s 2021.

If you lived through the nineties, the economy was raging, the budget was balanced, but many were left behind. And in the twenty first century, technology supercharged our economy and our lifestyles, we thought our problems were over. But hatred knows no limits. And unless you lift your brother up, he’s going to be left behind.

So for forty years one side labeled government bad, taxes bad, to the point where our roads are peppered with potholes. As for a hands-off business policy, these advocates are now raging against giant tech companies, like Twitter and Facebook and Google, that have more power than the government itself. We live in a society, there must be limits.

Yes, America is challenged.

But instead of crying in our beer, pointing fingers, we must have hope.

We’re not going to get it with music, where if you make it you might be shot to death, where the dollar supersedes the message. Music has squandered its power.

As for celebrities… The internet brought them down to earth. Turns out they’re no better than the rest of us. And people tell them that every damn day online. America is a hating country, just rise above, you’ll see.

So, how strange is it that the only leader we have today is a politician?

Politicians have a bad name. Watergate killed the reputation of lawyers, and lying and cheating and duplicity killed the reputation of politicians. We’ve got no one to believe in anymore. And I certainly did not expect to believe in Joe Biden.

Maybe it’s because Biden has lived long enough to see it all, to remember what America once was. That’s how far we’ve gotten from the garden, the youth never lived through the golden era, they’ve got no idea what it was like. Not that the past was all shiny, but depression did not rule the nation’s minds, people still knew the American Dream existed. Now, it does not. You can say it does, but statistics tell us otherwise, your chances of upward mobility are better in Canada and Europe. We’ve got no facts in the U.S. anymore, just opinions. How are we going to get out of this mess?

Through leadership.

A coach does not play to lose. A coach observes the rules and then does his best to win. But this has not been the ethos of the ruling party. The fabric of our nation, its very rules, have been called into question. And chaos has been sown. Victory has eluded our hands to the point where it’s no longer even visible.

So, we’ve got a septuagenarian leader, who was given up for good, seen as aged toast, come back to lead our way out of the darkness. He wasn’t my guy, but I voted for him, knowing that when we come together, good things can happen, there’s no upside to a protest vote, 2016 taught us that.

And this septuagenarian leader, labeled as senile by his detractors, came to the pulpit today and delivered a speech hitting all the points. We’re used to speakers avoiding the hard topics. Like race, like climate, like the division in our nation. But Biden touched upon them all.

Was Biden as good a speaker as JFK? No way.

But speaking is not as important as action. And unlike his predecessor, Biden is hitting the ground running, he’s prepared, to tackle our national health crisis know as Covid-19, never mind our economic and ecological issues.

That’s how far we’ve sunk. If you’re a wonk, if you’re educated, if you’re prepared, you’re seen as a loser. Even worse, there are the privileged people who spew endless falsehoods, obscuring the path. But that’s America, where there’s no longer any truth.

It’s been pretty depressing.

And it’s depressing that Biden had to speak to very few, because of fear of disruption.

But it comes down to the man on camera, in a close-up, the words.

We live in a world where we can reach everyone, but very few are paying attention. But if you’ve got something to say, something worth paying attention to, it continues to exist online, that’s one definite improvement from the sixties, if you miss it, you can still see it, and you should see Joe Biden’s speech.

Now I can’t remember the last inauguration I watched, maybe not since JFK. I was in school. Or I was in the hinterlands. Or I was frustrated with the victor. And to tell you the truth, I didn’t get up and watch Biden either. I didn’t need to hear platitudes and false hope in a country where I believe I count less and less. But as the afternoon wore on, checking the news, reading the stories, I decided to tune in.

Usually, the highlight is the swearing in.

But in this case it was the speech itself.

Biden’s predecessor tried his best to pour water on the parade. Insisting that taxes would go up, not mentioning that under his reign, taxes went down for all those who had money, never mind the fact that many people don’t pay income taxes at all, because they just don’t make enough money. Oh, they pay sales taxes, gas taxes, payroll taxes, all kinds of taxes, and they oftentimes can’t make it on their wages.

But this predecessor is now in the rearview mirror. It’s only now that media is transitioning to a younger, more tech-savvy worker base that knows today to get your message across you’ve got to make news every day, but it’s only news if you have a pulpit, a position of power, which the old guy no longer has. He can do his best to spew his untruths, but he’s been banned by so many social media platforms that his words will have a limited spread. So attention will fade and the lazy man will play golf, rant to his friends and fade away. Come on, how many entertainers and athletes continue to be in the news after their careers peak? Almost none of them. So, in an era where it’s tough to get attention to begin with, we tend to forget the past and plow under its instigators.

You should watch Biden’s speech because…

It’s written in English. Delivered in English. There’s no base vernacular. I’ve got no problem with dirty words, but even I know there’s a time and a place. There has to be some respect for our institutions, otherwise they’re not worth saving. But democracy and the United States are worth it.

That was the focus of Biden’s speech. Democracy. How it triumphed.

And it wasn’t an easy fight and it wasn’t even a fair fight. One side didn’t even respect the rules. And it’s hard to have a game when this occurs. But somehow, the glue held, we held elections and those who won have been seated.

So now we look forward.

Blind optimism is worthless. Because unless you can see your failures, you’re hobbled by them, and everybody fails. You have to know when to give up, when to pivot, progress is hard, and it’s never in a straight line. But if you’re prepared and willing to do the work, great things can be achieved, especially when the people, the country, are behind you.

Despite hogwash to the contrary, Biden does not want to ruin the country, we’re not going to socialism overnight, as a matter of fact if he succeeds, it will be good for everybody, most definitely those who’ve been protesting. And nothing breeds contentment like success. Victory pulls people along, not only the true believers, but the questioning, those not paying attention in the first place.

We elected these officials. The tail cannot wag the dog. They need to do what is right, they must not base every decision on whether they’ll be popular or not…don’t they teach this in elementary school?

So, we’re at the beginning of a great reset. Just in time. Biden is just the leader, but in his case he’s got a full roster on his team and it is prepared. Will there be hiccups, will there be failures? Of course, there’s no advancement without them.

So breathe a sigh of relief. We’ve got an experienced pilot at the helm. Hopefully we’ll be able to stop thinking about the plane crashing, about America going off the rails, because our leader and his crew will be paying attention, doing the right thing.

Or you could say no. You could be a hater. Since it’s not you, since you didn’t win, no one else can. You can try and tear everybody down to achieve…exactly what? What is the goal, further chaos, for the sake of chaos? How does that work?

This is who we’ve got. Criticize him when he makes mistakes. But don’t get in his way when he’s trying to fix things. Once again, America must be a can-do nation, not a can-not.

Sometimes you have to get to the brink to appreciate what you might lose, to inspire people to work hard and do the right thing. Possibly the last four years will be a giant wake-up call, to restore the luster of our nation, and its worldwide respect. To help our allies and challenge our enemies.

Today Biden grabbed the reins, he’s kicking the horse, he’s getting it moving, the race has begun.

And the race for victory is for you and me.

That’s what they call society.

That’s what they call the United States of America.

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