It’s 19 January 2021, which means tomorrow is the day that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris can finally remove that -elect from their titles. Not the first person to point this out, but having to wait nearly three months after an election is not great, and something that probably should be changed.
Now that Biden and Harris are taking office, I’d imagine they are keenly interested in how not to be a jerk in the upcoming days. I mean, I would be. That’s clearly the most important thing for them right now, right? Not hurting any feelings?
Frankly, I’d LOVE it if they acted like unapologetic assholes in every encounter with Mitch McConnell and every other Republican on Capitol Hill. Literally every single person who still puts an R next to their name when they run for office should be ashamed of themselves. They either actively led an insurrection (there’s a sentence I wasn’t ever planning to write), or they failed to speak out against it until it was politically beneficial to do so. They do not deserve any special treatment. They genuinely, truly suck, and I hope each of them wake up with a new hangnail every day for the rest of their lives.
No, instead of focusing on how not to be a jerk to elected officials, I’d like to offer some suggests on how Biden and Harris can not be jerks to the 80 million people who voted for them, as well as the people who would have if they weren’t too young / weren’t suppressed by racist voting system. The people who saw that they had something to offer.
They are not as progressive or left as I am. We are not on the same page on every policy. And that’s okay, because oh my god they are not that racist rapist Trump. They are a step in a better direction. But given everything we’ve seen over the last four years, it is critical that they continue to listen to the people who voted for them. The progressives. The activists. The people who have been most harmed by the US policies since forever.
They need to be listening to the younger voters. Black Lives Matter activists. People who want to defund the police. People who want to ensure reproductive justice is supported. People who care about civil and human rights.
Biden and Harris are going to be pulled into 100 different directions, and they will need to prioritize things. With the massive failures of the Trump administration in pretty much every facet of life, they will need to do some triage. The pandemic is still raging, and vaccine distribution has been failing. But there’s always a fire, it seems, that keeps the bigger picture items from receiving the attention they deserve. ‘Yes, yes, of course we need to change policing, but first we need to get this disease under control.’ No, that’s a jerk move. It needs to be both / and. Learn to multi-task.
This is an opportunity to get things done. With the wins in Georgia, there is a majority for Democrats in the House and Senate, and they need to use that. McConnell is no longer in control, so Biden and Harris can take advantage of the next two years to make some deep, meaningful, systemic changes, and those changes need to be informed by the people who are most affected. The racists who voted for Trump need to understand that they have always been on the wrong side of history, and they need to get used to the reality that their views are completely offensive and disgusting. Yes, I’m talking about the 74 million people who voted for Trump. You’re wrong. You have no problem supporting a racist and misogynist. And it’s not a jerk thing to say that – it’s the truth. One cannot vote for a racist and then say ‘I’m not a racist.’ That’s just not how that works.
Part of my 2021 focus is leaning into my values. And I do absolutely value giving people the time and space to grow and learn. I didn’t jump out into this world full formed, and I still am working through my thoughts on a lot of different ideas. There is so much I don’t know, that I’m still learning. But I do know what my values are, and I don’t think I need to accommodate people who want to do things that are so diametrically opposed to my values. The last four years have been full of policies based on utterly disgusting moral frameworks: capitalism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, anti-trans beliefs, anti-Muslim beliefs, antisemitism. Basically, the last four years have been pretty much the exact opposite of what I think the government should do in nearly every situation.
So nearly-President Biden and nearly-Vice President Harris, please don’t worry about your tone, or about being deferential or respectful to elected Republicans. And for goodness sake, do not do anything under the guise of ‘unity’ if that call is coming from the same people who were openly committing treason right up until they lost. It is not a jerk move to treat these people as they deserve – with respect only for their humanity, not for their opinion, and certainly not for their actions.