Praying for the Dawn

Author: Gary Hart

Serious thought must be given right now by Americans concerned for their country as to the state of our social and political institutional pillars.

Consider our circumstances.  We are entering the second year of a deadly pandemic that has already taken the lives of well over a third of our fellow countrymen and women.  Inoculations have not been well organized or delivered.  Unemployment and small business failures remain high.  Schools are closed.  Hospitals are overrun.  We will experience a transfer of government that itself has been anything but peaceful.

Most ominously, an extremist mob summoned and instructed by the outgoing president has attacked our national Capitol with the loss of lives and serious damage to the cathedral of democracy.

These are the kinds of times that test men’s souls and our national purpose.

Are we still a nation of more or less likeminded people?  Or has a dangerous political and social malignancy entered our blood stream?

Given the widening gaps in our society, we have yet to find a language with which to address each other.

Though upheaval, including most violently a Civil War, has marked our history from time to time: early on Shay’s and Whiskey rebellions; a prolonged and bloody Reconstruction period; the Ku Klux Klan; mass incarceration of Japanese-Americans; a Communist threat led by Joseph McCarthy; demagogic figures promoting racist and anti-immigrant themes, including a recent president; and now the tragic assault on our own Congress by one branch of government against another.

After a time, sometimes a long time, each of these threats have gone away.  But is there a chance that after 250 years, American democracy has run its course?  The whole world, including Russia, China, and European populistic nationalists, is watching.

What is our answer?  Joe Biden will have his answer, and God bless him.  But the American people must also have our answer, if for no one else than for our children and future generations.  Like individuals, nations are tested in times of great stress.

We may hope to wake up tomorrow and find the virus in hasty retreat, businesses reopening, people going back to work, politicians, if not openly embracing then at least shaking hands.

But more likely the stress will continue and those who profit from unrest, suspicion, and anarchy continuing to hold the stage and threatening more upheaval.

Until order and sanity return and a new day dawns, it is for the rest of us to hold the flag of America’s principles high, to resist anarchy at every turn, and to demonstrate the better angels of our nature.

Our flag, “and the Republic for which it stands,” based on principles of democracy is our civic religion.  Our leaders, including our military, take an oath to protect and defend our Constitution.

Many of our fellow citizens challenge this faith.  They are in open rebellion against our core principles and beliefs.  They are willing to undertake unconstitutional means to undercut our Constitution.  We must say a prayer of thanks to the handful of State election officials who refused requests, nay orders, from the president of the United States to overturn the authentic outcome of our election.  Quite a number of them, unlike some Members of Congress, put principle over party.

In important ways, the schism in America isn’t simply ideological.  It is now about facts and the nature of truth itself.  If someone like Donald Trump can convince, totally without evidence, 75 million Americans that our national election was fraudulent, then many of our fellow countrymen are living in a state of unreality.

America’s future does not rest with propaganda and deception.  It rests with truth, fact, and principles.  Nationalism and populism are having their day and are resorting to destruction and violence.

Loyal Americans must rise up and refuse to let them destroy our faith in our nation and in ourselves.

 

9 Responses to “Praying for the Dawn”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>>>We must say a prayer of thanks to the handful of State election officials who refused requests, nay orders, from the president of the United States to overturn the authentic outcome of our election. Quite a number of them, unlike some Members of Congress, put principle over party.

    Yeah, you might want to think about building a monument to them! I’m just sayin’ … but for the courage and principles of these State and election officials and volunteers across the country and, I would add, a few strategically placed congressional Democrats and Republicans, things might be a whole lot worse than they already are.

    The Big Lie(s). How to confront and counteract them? The comparison to the beginnings of the Hitler years in Germany has been made and is wholly apt . Which should strike a chord in the heart of all people who love justice and believe in principles of fairness and equality and in the promise of America. Of course, even the Nazis didn’t incite an insurrection on their own Reichstag. Ahem.

    As it stands, America has a another chance to rise above the hatred, nationalism and white supremacy. Who knows, it could be the last one. I know one thing for sure – that the American people chose THIS moment in time to elect Senator Biden their president is nothing short of miraculous to this observer from out in the world.

    And, still, the world, once again, is looking to America for global leadership by example on the critical and existential challenges of our time, none more serious than climate change and shutting down a wholly controllable virus.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I have a pandemic question.

    The situation in the US is critical, much worse than it is in my neck of the woods, where we are living through a general province-wide lockdown and stay-at-home order until we get our numbers of daily infections down to a level where implementing basic, less extreme public health measures can once again keep the virus in check, at least until we can reach something approaching “herd immumity” through vaccination.

    Lockdown for a relatively short period of time, followed by good control through implementation of all of the basic public health measures that have been demonstrated to work – this is how lives are saved until we can get everyone vaccinated. Hopefully, the vaccines we have now and those that will come on line in future will effectively protect us. I don’t think we know that yet.

    So, my question – I’ve heard many people – including president-elect Biden – say that lockdowns won’t or can’t happen in the US. But, what if that is the only way you can get a wildly-out-of-control-yet-controllable virus under control? I mean, it wouldn’t have to be for a long time – a few weeks, maybe a month, if it’s done right – and it would make all the difference in getting to a point where the virus is manageable and lives can be saved.

    Masking up and vaccinations aren’t nearly enough to save lives now!

    There is nothing inevitable about the horrible projections of lives lost over the next few months. We know what works to control this virus and save lives. Why wouldn’t the US do everything in its power to do it!?

  3. H. Patrick Pritchard Says:

    TO REPUBLICANS WHO NOW CRY OUT FOR UNITY I SAY THIS:

    You can’t have domestic tranquility until you establish justice for all.

  4. Gary Hart Says:

    The short answer to your question, Elizabeth, is the Tenth Amendment to our Constitution that reserves all powers not given to the United States Government to the individual States. Short of declaring martial law, the U.S. Government would have no power to declare a national lock-down. There has been a fierce resistance in many parts of the country over the past year to local lock-downs and business closures. A carry-out economy has arisen to fill part of the gap. But the country is a checkboard of local and occasionally State laws to permit some necessary economic activity while relying on masks and distancing to limit contact. Not a perfect situation by any means but the only one short of shutting the country down. GH

  5. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Thanks for that, Senator Hart.

    I understand that president Biden won’t be able to shut the country down nor would that be advisable or doable, even without the tenth amendment.

    We don’t have a national lockdown in Canada, either. What we do have are some time-limited provincial lockdowns where transmission is very high with access to all essential services – grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores (hey, they’re essential!) and the like. What we have learned, though, is that people must undertand their role in implementing these lockdown, especially when they are only locally or regionally imposed. The problem we had was that people would travel the short distance between lockdown and non-lockdown regions thus defeating the purpose and causing a provincial wide lockdown. Live and learn!

    So, I was talking more about local or state-wide lockdowns in areas of high transmission and the seeming aversion to even talk about lockdowns. Don’t get me wrong – lockdowns are the least desirable way to control a virus but, in some situations where transmission is so wildly out of control, it may be the only way to save lives now.

    If some sort of ‘lockdown’ is implemented wisely where it is most needed to save lives and if there is community buy-in and if there is a public health infrastructure ready to take over the effort when the lockdown is over after transmission is brought down to a manageable level that will keep the virus under control then countries that have done this have been able to shut this virus down.

    I just hate hearing people talk about the inevitablity of 400,000 deaths becoming 500,000 and 600,000 etc based on modeling. There is nothing inevitable about these horrific projections. As my favourite American at the World Health Organization, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for COVID-19 keeps saying, we have the means and the tools at our disposal now to get this virus under control; it is entirely within our hands to break the chains of transmission and save lives.

    If the US leaves the situation to just masking up and vaccines, I’m afraid that there
    will be many more needlessly lost lives. Fortunately, the new Biden administration understands this so here is wishing them all the wisdom and good fortune to get the job done!

  6. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    Very thoughtful, a discourse that reveals how the history of America, never leaves it. It is a very divided country, more than many, its north south divide, either symbolic of that or at the root of it. The English civil war , earlier than many or most, led to the execution of a king, the establishing of a dictatorship, followed by the return of the monarchy, the self same king’s son!the uk was divided by the absurd level of tension re brexit. it is united by awareness that went too far.

    Elizabeth, writes here in a way that needs real attention, thankful a response already from our host. I have spent much of this period in research, debate,contributing views, articles, and reaching conclusions that now, I find lead me to be more certain, more vociferous, on this.

    The US, Canada, the Uk, Australia, New Zealand. What do they share? Ex British dominions, the English language.

    All have similar or same types of values, very different systems, only in government or ideological stances or tendencies.The US in its politics, is traditionally to the centre right of the others. Liberty defined as classical, about freedom to, do what you want, freedom from, government itself.

    Australia has some of this, but has a traditional left party, social democratic, Labour, though often a rather right wing attitude, especially on immigration.

    New Zealand is next. Similar. A little, not much, to the left.

    Canada, a little further left, much though, in common with the US, in that it sees itself, unlike Australia and New Zealand, as an immigrant country, but it, like the US, has a tension at its heart, its French vs British supposed and even, to an extent, actual, divide.

    The UK, is a far more complex and very rare place. It is the oldest consistent democracy of main powerful countries.Its empire the most recent, rivals Rome for world domination, though with mainly, unlike Rome, a rather light touch re despotism and hideousness! It is one of the most innovative and fluid societies on earth, and the leader in multi racial, interracial relationships and mixed race children.Contrary to the view of some romantic Americans, it does not dress in period clothes and is so modern in outlook, even Brexit rarely couched its enthusiasts in nostalgia. It rarely, unlike the US, shows old films on most or any network tv!

    All this culminates in this, re covid. Only Australia and New Zealand have dealt with the virus well. One, a centre right govt, one centre left. Both have small populations, and good size land and space. Both have a tendency to trust or at least listen to, authority, rare in liberal, or freedom oriented societies. Both have no problem isolating, as they are isolated geographically. Both are not as pro open borders, pandemic or no.

    The lockdowns were stronger, the rules obeyed, the borders closed.

    The countries have freed themselves within, closing themselves, without.

    The UK, Canada, under two, again, centre right, centre left governments, have been similar, though the UK far worse! Lockdowns, partly, discipline, partly, borders, not closed.

    The answer is to combine the New Zealand attitudes, with thesouth Korean practices.

    Lockdown as a nation, close the borders, eliminate the virus, then, quarantine any visitors, in govt venues.

    The zero covid approach, can work and must be on the horizon. Even allowance for the lack of national lockdown in the US or Canada, would mean if borders within states that have eliminated it, are closed, it reduces the spread and maintains the freedom within those states.

    The new varieties of covid might not respond as well to the current vaccines, even so, that takes longer than the strategy of New Zealand.

    Ardern is the only leader who can be praised totally.

  7. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    I touch on South Korea. They did not lockdown. Anti lockdown, pro, liberty above anything, Trump types, like to point at South Korea.

    What I said about that little bit,more discipline in Australia, New Zealand, lack of it in the UK, canada, especially, Us, re being told what to do, is writ large in the Asian countries.

    They all differ though in approach, their bond, discipline.

    China, totalitarian, literally did lock in some people, and their top down, with compliance, did the really amazing thing, got rid of much of covid, even though it began there.

    South Korea did not lockdown, but it made masks virtually a habit years before, re sars, as at least the done thing in these situations. Similarly social distancing. And, this is crucial, though it did not, close borers, requires quarantine in govt run venues.

    Taiwan, did close borders, open only for important travel, again with quarantine.

    The UK and Canada have been a joke at the borders, the UK a real example of do what you like at home, self quarantining!

    Those who say the answer is a or b, know little of the rest of the letters, but its not a to z!

    The answer is in my view, New Zealand at first, with South Korea after a while.

  8. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Lorenzo,

    It’s important to learn lessons from all countries – from the ones that shut the virus down and the ones that didn’t.

    Interesting to note that the countries that had experience with SARS the first time around did better with it the second time around. Canada may be an exception to that rule as we didn’t seem to learn much.

    Thank God for the WHO and so happy that the US is now back in the fold, not that it every really left insofar as individual Americans always being involved, especially Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for Covid-19. And, a big shout out to Dr Mike Ryan from Ireland, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme. And, of course, the leadership of WHO Director General Dr Tedros has been remarkable and misunderstood by most who don’t understand the structure and mandate of the global health organization.

    Not all countries had to impose lockdowns, the worst way to shut down a virus.

    I must say that I have been a bit disappointed that president Biden hasn’t outlined a comprehensive package of health measures that his government, state and local governments, communities, and individuals need to implement in some detail so that everyone is on the same page. This goes especially for the overall plan for vaccine distribution and delivery and actual vaccination. There is so much confusion around that last bit. Here in my country, too. Me? I’ve been following the WHO, religiously, and so I understand what needs to happen with the vaccines and that early vaccination should be restricted to those who are most vulnerable and most likely to die if infected. It’s really pretty simple – vaccination now is meant only to reduce the number of lives lost. Period. The rest of us will have to wait and all of us need to keep following the simple health measures to reduce transmission of this wholly controllable virus.

  9. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    So, I just watched President Biden’s EO signing and presser.

    He got an excellent question from a journo (I have to find out who he is – Josh?)at the very end of the presser, thanks to the president taking an extra one …

    He was asked about his assertion the other day that there is nothing that can be done to stop the inevitable rise in deaths due to COVID-19. I was hoping somebody would ask him about that because there is definitely QUITE A LOT THAT CAN BE DONE to reduce the number of deaths, hospitalizations and, of course, infections.

    There is nothing inevitable about current horrific projections in increasing numbers of infections and deaths in the US, in Canada, or anywhere else. Why? Because we have the tools at hand to reduce transmission before we even start talking about vaccines and vaccines only. Vaccines are a very critical part of the set of tools we now have at our disposal but they are by no means the only tool or enough, in and of themselves.

    I was thoroughly disappointed in Biden’s answer to this question. He basically said, yes, there is nothing that Americans can do to avoid the projections of 600,000 deaths or more. He said that he would shut down the virus but that it would take time and not happen overnight and then he went on to talk more about vaccines. He said it was difficult when people don’t follow the public health measures that are proven tools to stop the spread and then went on to talk about the timeline of vaccination.

    It sounded to me like he has given up on trying to persuade people across the country who are not taking this virus seriously to finally start doing their part and make the simple changes to their behavior that will save lives. He didn’t say one word about what state governments should be doing to get that message out, loud and clear.

    Now, I know that Democrats, generally speaking, are not very good at getting their message out. That better change and fast – if lives are to be saved instead of counting body bags and if midterm elections are to be won.

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