It is no longer news that 2020 saw a collapse of political discourse and public behavior in the United States. Trends that developed over many years intensified last year.
One major political party had as its candidate for president a magnetic figure who can also be nasty and lacking in verbal self-control. The other party featured someone blander and more petulant who also lacks verbal restraint.
There are clear differences between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in their politics and policies, but one may also note how alike these candidates were in their behavior. Both men regularly uttered statements that were obviously false and even dishonest. The mainstream news media, of course, covered for President-elect Biden, either ignoring his many unsettling or simply stupid statements, or writing them off as innocent “gaffes,” a comfort not provided to President Trump. They assured us the man who told blacks the Republican party was about to put them back in chains was going to restore civility to American politics!
We can be reasonably sure that civility is not going to be an achievement of the Biden presidency!
Additionally in 2020, both men, and most prominent leaders of both parties, showed little interest in maintaining public safety, which is the most basic duty of government.
Trump, and too many other Republicans, were irresponsible in dealing with COVID-19. After a mostly slow and weak reaction to the pandemic, Trump seemed to work against the policies of his own administration, praising demonstrations against lockdowns, often refusing to wear a mask, and holding dangerous public rallies. Much of Trump’s rhetoric almost seemed designed to convince people they had more to fear from the president than from the Democrats’ evident affection for criminals, race-baiting, and political fanaticism.
Had Trump dealt with the only national crisis of his presidency in a more prudent manner, he likely would have remained in the White House.
To be sure, he was not alone among Republicans in crafting a flawed response to the pandemic. All too many behaved irresponsibly out of panic at the social and economic consequences of extended lockdowns. It is hard not to sympathize with the last group, but they were dangerously foolish.
Meanwhile, the Democrats in 2020 did a remarkable job of demonstrating their unfitness for any office higher than that of toilet cleaner. They chose an extremely old, feeble, political hack for their presidential candidate, a man with a career spanning half a century devoid of any achievement. As his running mate, who is likely to replace him during his first term, they chose a political chameleon. For it is not clear whether Kamala Harris is, as her Senate voting record indicates, a far leftist, especially on social issues, or as her earlier career suggests, merely a spectacularly “flexible” opportunist.
The Democrats and their friends in the media collaborated to concoct a fantastically distorted account of the violence that erupted last summer, and indeed of the entirety of America’s history. They performed the remarkable ideological feat of identifying the entire history of the United States with the pre-Civil War South, or their slightly peculiar version thereof, in which that society consisted solely of sadistic white slaveowners and black slaves.
Practically justifying the riots Democratic politicians did their best to scapegoat and weaken the police, at a time when crime in general, not to mention political violence, was rising sharply.
They and their media friends were very effective at largely suppressing many important facts—notably the number of deaths in the riots and the true statistics of crime and police killings—all while making the hysterical behavior of a woman in a quarrel over a dog in Central Park a national issue. In an apparent effort to preserve the—possibly erroneous—image of the killing of George Floyd as a racial confrontation, the national media largely ignored the questions raised by the (briefly noted) point that Floyd and Derek Chauvin may well have known each other and, still more curious, that Chauvin and his wife have been indicted for tax evasion.
To what extent Democratic politicians were motivated by their tropism toward the left, the need to compete with the “woke” elements, or rank opportunism, remains uncertain. Probably all three tendencies played a part in their reprehensible behavior.
It is important, however, to note that the irresponsible behavior of both parties in the crises of 2020 overlapped. Trump did not initially act quickly or resolutely against the riots, concentrating instead on personal posturing. When confronted by a reporter pointing out that blacks were killed by police at twice the rate of whites given their proportion of the population (which is the only law enforcement statistic the left finds relevant) Trump lacked the courage or intelligence to bluntly point out that this was because blacks have a far higher crime rate.
Nor were Democrats superior to Trump in matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in overseeing the original epicenter of the disease in the U.S., had to practically be dynamited into doing anything by his staff. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s disastrous blunder in forcing sick people into nursing homes should not be forgotten. His basic contempt for decency and the interests of the ordinary law-abiding majority has most recently been demonstrated by his prioritization of drug addicts over the elderly in terms of receiving COVID-19 vaccines.
Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and others attacked Trump as a “racist” for one of his few sensible pandemic actions, stopping travel to and from China. Pelosi failed, until the end of July, to insist that Congress wear masks. There was general reluctance to condemn the violations of anti-virus precautions by left-wing “protestors,” despite the eagerness to attack Trump, even to pretend that the president is responsible for all American COVID deaths.
Even the media have been unable to completely ignore the arrogance of many Democratic politicians in violating the lockdown guidelines preached to the rest of America. Of course, in many cases they were forced to recognize such behavior by bystanders who took pictures of their hypocritical betters out at restaurants and on vacation without masks on.
The far left, and people influenced by the cultural trends of the last half century, are not interested in reforming society, or in getting honest, competent leaders to replace the fools, maniacs, and liars currently running things.
What they really want, consciously or unconsciously, is to destroy, not improve, a society that they believe is too evil to be preserved.