Diatribes of Jay

This blog has essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to social problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

21 July 2024

Thank You, Joe!

Dear Mr. President,

When I heard the news that you are stepping down, like millions of Americans, I felt a huge surge of relief. It was strong enough to bring tears.

My relief had little to do with you. You’ve already saved our democracy once. You did it by over seven million votes nationwide. But our Founders bequeathed us a bit of pernicious nonsense called the Electoral College. So you really won in 2020 by less than 150,000 votes in seven so-called “Battleground” states.

I’m 79, two years behind you in age. I know from monthly, if not weekly, personal experience how quickly, unexpectedly and erratically decline comes. And I have a deep conviction that your chances for pulling the rabbit out of the hat again, four years later, are far too low for comfort.

The Demagogue is now better prepared, with a plan for despotism behind him called “Project 2025,” only slightly ameliorated in the Republican Party’s official platform. The entire GOP is also united behind him, a phenomenon uncannily reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s rise in 1930s Germany. And a phalanx of talented people, in it just for power, fame or money, are lining up on his side.

So the stakes now are higher than in 2020. Democracy itself is on the line. And you are four years older, weaker and less sharp, facing an emboldened Demagogue with thousands of lesser leaders—all of whom should know better—and some seventy million cult followers behind him. Yet you are sixteen years beyond the standard American retirement age — nearly two decades for the French.

If you had stayed on, you would have faced the greatest threat in the history of American democracy, and the greatest globally since Julius Caesar, at an age when the vast majority of people in human history have retired or have died.

So thank you, Joe Biden. Thank you acknowledging the inevitable. Thank you for having saved our democracy once already. Thank you for making clear the threat we face. Thank you for understanding that it’s time to pass the torch to those who will bear the cost and the consequences of the coming election for the rest of their lives.

I have no idea who will take your place. Like millions of Americans, I have an indelible memory of Vice President Kamala Harris, during the 2020 debates, looking wistfully, and smiling, at the fly on Mike Pence’s forehead. I remember vividly her cogent and aggressive debating. And I hope that, if the Demagogue feels the sharp point of those debating skills again, coming from a female who is both part Black and part Asian, he might melt down on national TV, destroying his candidacy right there and then. He is hardly known for his firm reason or self-control.

Whether or not that pleasant fantasy comes to pass, I’m quite sure that the process of picking a new standard bearer, and and new VP, will energize the Democratic Party more than anything that has happened in the past year. Four months may not be much time, but they can pack in a lot of hope, energy and excitement.

I also hope that the Dems will devote one full day, at their national convention, to showcasing your leadership, the advances you have made, the legislation you pushed for and signed, your Executive Orders, and all the other benefits of your presidency. This “thank you” fest would serve two purposes: (1) acknowledging our nation’s immense debt to your leadership; and (2) letting a national audience know —in depth and in detail—how much you and the Dems have already done for all of us.

As a geezer myself, I offer you special thanks, for having the courage and wisdom to recognize that your time has passed. As Lincoln once said, under very different circumstances, you have given the nation the “last full measure of devotion.” And we are all grateful. Now, under your guidance, if not direct command, we can get on with the business of preserving your living legacy: the survival of American democracy and the Enlightenment.

For brief descriptions of and links to recent posts, click here. For an inverse-chronological list with links to all posts after January 23, 2017, click here. For a subject-matter index to posts before that date, click here.

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