Exhaling: An election where decency and empathy mattered

Reporting for The Guardian (link here), David Smith’s lede about President-elect Joseph Biden’s Nov. 8 victory speech captured the emotions of the moment for many Americans and friends around the world:

Joe Biden ran jauntily on to the stage, wearing a black face mask but suddenly looking several years younger. Looking, in fact, like millions of Americans felt, with burdens to bear but a spring in his step.

The new US president-elect offered a Saturday night speech that did not brag or name call, did not demonise immigrants and people of colour, did not send TV networks and social media into meltdown and did not murder the English language.

After the mental and moral exhaustion of the past four years, Biden made America sane again in 15 minutes. It was an exorcism of sorts, from American carnage to American renewal.

Two prominent historians have made similar statements during news interviews. Michael Beschloss opined that “American democracy went through a near-death experience” during this time, while Jon Meacham asserted that “Empathy, decency, and democracy were on the ballot this season.”

I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, the main reason why I haven’t posted in a month — easily the longest span between postings during the 12-year life of this blog — is that I’ve been processing the results of this Presidential vote, which I consider to be the most important national election of my lifetime. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote a month ago about the incumbent and his Democratic challenger:

No other public figure has ever had such a negative effect on my day-to-day quality of life. I feel like I have been forced to endure an abusive civic relationship. The fact that much of my work as an academic addresses behaviors such as bullying, gaslighting, and abuse of power has sharpened my understanding of what we’ve been enduring.

By contrast, I think well of Joe Biden. He is a decent human being and a capable, street-smart public servant. I have long believed that he is the best candidate to win back the White House from its current occupant. When I put my ballot in the mail a few weeks ago, I was happy to vote for him and Kamala Harris. I pray that I voted for the winning ticket.

While I have shared my political beliefs on this blog from time to time, I have purposefully avoided making it a so-called political blog. However, I believe the span of 2016 to 2020 will be regarded as one of the most momentous and disturbing chapters of this nation’s history. It will take us many years to recover from this time.

I am working on a modest little writing project with a small group of other experts on bullying and mobbing behaviors to frame the 2016-20 period through the lens of abuse and mistreatment. I will share more about it at the top of the new year. In the meantime, I will return to writing about topics that have been the main focus of this blog. As always, I appreciate your readership.

5 responses

  1. Agree with your analysis! I have an upcoming December cover story for Psychiatric Times called An Optimistic Psychiatric Prognosis for 2021, actually written before the election. However, as you say, we will have a lot of psychological work to do to process delayed grieving, trauma processing, and the rise of mental symptoms across many conditions.

    Steve Moffic

  2. I’m glad you and your associates are examining this administration in these terms, David, so that we can call out the next would-be abuser earlier in the process. If you’d like a hand with proofreading, I’d be delighted to help! (Am, likewise in our “fair Commonwealth”. BTW, your template seems to be missing the blank email field, below.)

  3. Very well said David, as always. I’m looking forward to reading your ” modest little writing project” in 2021. As I see it, the over arching challenge that faces us as a country, is the uniting process. 70 Million voters thought that Trump deserved a second term, that’s a staggering number to me, but it’s those voters who now need to at least try to buy in to The Biden -Harris led government.

    • Maybe it’s the other way around, that Biden et al have to buy into Trump and his supporters, that is, find ways to show them he will address their needs and concerns. I would even say that he should thank Trump for the apparent upcoming success of Operation Warp Speed. Remember, many of those followers have been brainwashed in a cultish sense.

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