Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Inauguration Eve Musings

On the eve of Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, I find myself hoping that a Biden/Harris administration takes to heart a key component of one of their former fellow presidential candidate's platform. I’m talking about author and activist Marianne Williamson’s plan for a U.S. Department of Peace.

Marianne recently reminded people of this particular pillar of her 2020 presidential campaign by re-sharing it on various social media platforms. “That [presidential] campaign is over,” she notes, “but the campaign for a more enlightened political perspective must continue.”

Peace as an organizing principle

The mission of Marianne’s proposed U.S. Department of Peace is quite simple: to hold peace as an organizing principle. Upon this foundation the department will do eight key things: (i) promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; (ii) coordinate restorative justice programs; (iii) address white supremacy; (iv) strengthen non-military means of peacemaking; (v) work to prevent armed conflict; (vi) address the epidemic of gun violence; (vii) develop new structures of non-violent dispute resolution; and (viii) proactively and systematically promote national and international conflict prevention, mediation, and resolution.

In short, the U.S. Department of Peace will “wage peace,” something I think we can all agree is sorely needed in the U.S. and across the globe.

Time will tell if Marianne’s radical (in the best and truest sense of the word) and much-needed proposal will gain traction under President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. I hope so. I also hope that Marianne will be tapped to serve in some capacity in the Biden/Harris administration. If nothing else, she would make a great official adviser in any number of areas.

Inauguration Day and beyond

As for tomorrow’s inauguration, first and foremost I pray that all goes smoothly and peacefully; that there’s no repeat of the right-wing extremist violence that took place at the Capitol just two weeks ago.

And, of course, I’m relieved and happy that the inauguration will put an official end to the horrors of the Trump presidency.

As to the extent of the political progressiveness of a Biden/Harris administration and a Democratic-controlled congress, I’m choosing to stay hopeful. There are definitely some hopeful signs . . . and some not so hopeful ones. Oh, and I’m heartened by the fact that Sen. Bernie Sanders will be assuming the powerful position of chairing the Senate Budget Committee.

About this decidely good piece of news, Jon Queally writes:

[W]hile the gavel is yet to be placed in his hand, Sanders and his staff have signaled in recent days that he will be ready and willing to wield it to push the incoming Biden administration – as well as Democratic leadership in the House and Senate – to enact the kind of bold, working-class friendly policies that fueled both of his presidential runs.

Among the chief powers that the chair of the committee will be able to utilize is fostering legislation through the Senate using the budget reconciliation process – a procedural tool that will allow, even under current rules, legislation to pass with a simple majority.

I close this Inauguration Eve post with some sage words from economic advisor, professor, author, and political commentator Robert Reich.


I keep hearing that Joe Biden will govern from the “center.” He has no choice, they say, because he’ll have razor-thin majorities in Congress and the Republican party has moved to the right.

Rubbish. I’ve served several Democratic presidents who have needed Republican votes. But the Republicans now in Congress are nothing like those I’ve dealt with. Most of today’s GOP live in a parallel universe. There’s no “center” between the reality-based world and theirs.

Last Wednesday, fully 95% of House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump for inciting insurrection, even after his attempted coup threatened their very lives.

The week before, immediately following the raid on the Capitol, more than 100 House Republicans and several Republican senators objected to the certification of Biden electors in two states on the basis of Trump’s lies about widespread fraud.

Prior to the raid, several Republican members of Congress repeated those lies on television and Twitter and at “Stop the Steal” events.

Trump has remade the Republican party into a white supremacist cult living within a counter-factual wonderland of lies and conspiracies.

According to various surveys, more than half of Republican voters – almost 40 million people – believe Trump won the 2020 race or aren’t sure who won; 45% support the storming of the Capitol; 57% say he should be the Republican candidate in 2024.

In this hermetically sealed cosmos, most Republicans believe Black Lives Matter protesters are violent, immigrants are dangerous and climate change doesn’t pose a threat. A growing fringe openly talks of redressing grievances through violence, including QAnon conspiracy theorists, of whom two are newly elected to Congress, who think Democrats are running a global child sex-trafficking operation.

How can Biden possibly be a “centrist” in this new political world?

There is no middle ground between lies and facts. There is no halfway point between civil discourse and violence. There is no midrange between democracy and fascism.

Biden must boldly and unreservedly speak truth, refuse to compromise with violent Trumpism and ceaselessly fight for democracy and inclusion.

Speaking truth means responding to the world as it is and denouncing the poisonous deceptions engulfing the right. It means repudiating false equivalences and “both sidesism” that gives equal weight to trumpery and truth. It means protecting and advancing science, standing on the side of logic, calling out deceit and impugning baseless conspiracy theories and those who abet them.

Refusing to compromise with violent Trumpism means renouncing the lawlessness of Trump and his enablers and punishing all who looted the public trust. It means convicting Trump of impeachable offenses and ensuring he can never again hold public office – not as a “distraction” from Biden’s agenda but as a central means of reestablishing civility, which must be a cornerstone of that agenda.

Strengthening democracy means getting big money out of politics, strengthening voting rights and fighting voter suppression in all its forms.

It means boldly advancing the needs of average people over the plutocrats and oligarchs, of the white working class as well as Black and Latino people. It means embracing the ongoing struggle for racial justice and the struggle of blue-collar workers whose fortunes have been declining for decades.

The moment calls for public investment on a scale far greater than necessary for COVID relief or “stimulus” – large enough to begin the restructuring of the economy. America needs to create a vast number of new jobs leading to higher wages, reversing racial exclusion as well as the downward trajectory of Americans whose anger and resentment Trump cynically exploited.

This would include universal early childhood education, universal access to the internet, world-class schools and public universities accessible to all. Converting to solar and wind energy and making America’s entire stock of housing and commercial buildings carbon neutral. Investing in basic research – the gateway to the technologies of the future as well as national security – along with public health and universal healthcare.

It is not a question of affordability. Such an agenda won’t burden future generations. It will reduce the burden on future generations.

It is a question of political will. It requires a recognition that there is no longer a “center” but a future based either on lies, violence and authoritarianism or on unyielding truth, unshakeable civility and radical inclusion. And it requires a passionate, uncompromising commitment to the latter.

– Robert Reich
Why Biden Can’t Govern From the Center
November 17, 2021


Related Off-site Links:
Don’t Let President Biden “Make Us the Dupes of Our Hopes” – Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, January 19, 2021).
Senate Democrats Prove “Democracy Reform Is a Top Priority” by Putting “For the People Act” First – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, January 19, 2021).
Biden to “Hit Ground Running” as He Rejoins Paris Climate Accords and Blocks Keystone XL Pipeline – Oliver Milman (The Guardian, January 19, 2018).
Biden Immigration Plan: 8 Year Path to Citizenship Will Be Unveiled on Day 1 – The Associated Press via AL.com, January 18, 2018).
Biden Picks Transgender Physician Rachel Levine as Assistant Health Secretary – The Associated Press via NBC News (January 19, 2021). Joe Biden Lifted His Health Care Plan From Insurance Industry Lobbyists – Andrew Perez and Julia Rock (Jacobin, January 19, 2021).
Biden's Inauguration Gives Us New Hope, But the Movement for Justice Must Continue to Build on Its Own Agenda – Jesse Jackson (Chicago Sun-Times via Common Dreams, January 19, 2021).
When Trump’s Out the Door, Biden Tackles the Winter of Our Discontent – Michael Winship (Common Dreams, January 18, 2021).
From Paul Ryan to Nikki Haley: GOP Nightmare of Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders About to Come True – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, January 17, 2021).
Why Progressives Must Not Give Joe Biden a Political Honeymoon – Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, December 21, 2020).

UPDATES: Biden Takes the Helm, Appeals for Unity to Take on Crises – Jonathan Lemire, Zeke Miller and Alexandra Jaffe (The Associated Press, January 20, 2021).
Cop who Warded Off Insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol Escorts Kamala Harris on Inauguration Day – Dylan Scott (Vox, January 20, 2021).
Amanda Gorman Captures the Moment, in VerseThe New York Times (January 20, 2021).
“Not Broken But Simply Unfinished”: Poet Amanda Gorman Calls for a Better America – Camila Domonoske (NPR News, January 20, 2021).
“Your Land?” Natives Question Inaugural Song – Felicia Fonseca (The Associated Press via Indian Country Today, January 21, 2021).
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Skips Inauguration to Join a Strike – Sharon Zhang (TruthOut, January 21, 2021).
A Look at Biden’s First Executive Orders in Office – The Associated Press via PBS Newshour, January 20, 2021).
Biden Order Blocks Keystone XL Pipeline – Jeff Brady (NPR News, January 20, 2021).
White House Website Recognizes Climate Change Is Real Again – Becky Ferreira (VICE, January 20, 2021).
President Biden Issues Most Substantive and Wide-Ranging LGBTQ Executive Order in U.S. History – Lucas Acosta (HRC.org, January 20, 2021).
Biden Revokes Trump Ban on Some Diversity Training Addressing White Privilege and Systemic Racism – Alexandra Olson (The Associated Press via Chicago Tribune, January 21, 2021).
Biden’s Executive Orders Sound Promising. Activists Are Skeptical – Sarah Leonard (AJ+, January 21, 2021).
Joe Biden Must Put an End to Business as Usual. Here's Where to Start – Bernie Sanders (The Guardian, January 20, 2021).
Ten Ways Biden Can Be Transformational (Even Without Congress) – Robert Reich (Common Dreams, January 20, 2021).
Three New Democratic Senators Sworn In, Flipping Control of the Senate – Alex Rogers (CNN Politics, January 20, 2021).
“The Work Continues”: Cornel West and Maria Hinojosa on the Promise and Dangers of the Biden AdministrationDemocracy Now! (January 21, 2021).
The Way Forward: Can the Left Push Biden to Be a Transformative President Like LBJ, FDR and Lincoln?Democracy Now! (January 20, 2021).
If Joe Biden Moves Left, You Can Thank the Left – Liza Featherstone (Jacobin, January 21, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts relating to:

Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Progressive Perspectives on Big Tuesday and Beyond
Progressive Perspectives on the Biden-Harris Ticket
Eight Leading Progressive Voices on Why They’re Voting for Biden
We Cannot Allow a Biden Win to Mean a Return to “Brunch Liberalism”
Election Eve Thoughts
Election Day USA, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on the 2020 U.S. Election Results

Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Marianne Williamson and the Power of Politicized Love
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
Marianne Williamson on the Movement for a People’s Party
“As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations”

Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Julian Drury: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2016
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Something to Think About – November 3, 2017
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – June 12, 2019
The Case for Bernie Sanders in 2020
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love
Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders’ Suspension of His Presidential Campaign

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