“Build Back Better” is the 2020 campaign theme for rebuilding the economy, put forth by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. But building back better — or building forward better, if you wish — is a good and feasible theme in general, as Americans approach Election Day and think beyond it, to the monumental repair job necessary in a post-Donald Trump future.
The following message, then, is for any independent or undecided voter out there — can there possibly be any left at this frenzied point? — to urge a vote for the Biden-Harris ticket. This is also to outline the repair job in store and how, with seemingly every element of American life flying up in the air, a vote for the Biden-Harris ticket is a vote for the sane and humane reassembling of American life.
A FAIRER AMERICA. Notably, with his selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a woman of Black and Indian descent who served as California’s Attorney General, Biden commits himself to a reckoning on race relations — the problem bedeviling this nation since the benighted days of slavery, America’s Original Sin. With the hideous killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer, which hideousness caught on tape stunned the world; with the most massive protests in American history arising in reaction, of Black and white Americans marching together; and with Biden declaring, “We are a nation furious at injustice” — we are a nation primed to reckon. A Biden-Harris administration, especially if it wins with big numbers and has a big mandate, will be in position to move the keystone into place and make our foundational claim to full equality, finally, a reality.
What this means: It means White America will face more competition — in the workplace, in society; it means surrendering the entitlement and privilege we have exercised for so long. It means unlocking the talents and gifts of all Americans of color — in the workplace, in society; it means their fuller experience of life, liberty, the Soul. All of which means America herself will benefit — from a newly energized populace and spirit.
A SMARTER AMERICA. No, I am not claiming an edge in I.Q. for Democrats over Republicans. What I mean by “smarter” breaks out in four ways. One: By promoting a fairer America as described above, and benefiting from the unleashed intelligence and talents of all Americans, we will simply operate smarter. Two: Science and reason, not know-nothingism and fear, will be Biden’s north star in corralling the pandemic, which corralling, he rightly believes, is imperative to fixing the economy. Three: With Democrats’ belief in government’s capacity to do good, democracy’s institutional delivery-system will recover functionality. And, four: Freed from Republicans’ blinding cant and ideology, we can recover things elemental to a functioning nation, things like….sanity, balance, hope, wit and wisdom, normalcy.
What this means: With these motive elements at the fore, America can compete better in the post-pandemic world, a world likely to be so altered that only the most nimble and original can compete, much less lead. Enough with attack and destroy, back to research and development, once America’s forte. Enough with polarized kludge, on to better argument. Polarization of course will continue, it may even get worse, but Democrats at the helm will help.
A GREENER AMERICA. Biden’s comprehensive climate plans — “The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice” and “The Biden Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future” — ring even to the untutored ear (like mine) all the right notes for going forward in the 21st century. Biden pledges America to “lead the world” in shifting to planet-saving clean energy. He pledges environmental justice against polluters harming low-income communities and communities of color. His pledge to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure = jobs galore (specifically, union jobs). And this special pledge: “Fulfill our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution and subsequent decades of economic growth”; meaning, no worker left behind. This $2 trillion investment plan will be paid for in part by rolling back the $1.5 trillion Trump tax incentives enriching corporations.
What this means: Pledging to be a “transitional” president, Biden will set America’s train on the optimal track to the future, ensuring security and livelihoods for our children and grandchildren. And despite the tax to them (and polluting the world with their greed), corporations and Wall Street are warming to Biden’s plans, per The Wall Street Journal, while Politico terms the Street “giddy.” Wall Street sees profit, if not also patriotic duty.
A DEEPER AMERICA. With over a quarter-million American lives lost to the coronavirus, with our world-beating economy crashing and taking down businesses large and small and millions of jobs, and with climate change in the form of harsher wildfires, floods, and hurricanes making denial impossible, Americans, to quote Albert Camus in “The Plague,” are “going to school with suffering.” While this hard reality has given rise to record levels of mental illness (depression, anxiety, insomnia), there is also on the rise something less quantifiable but of signal significance: a new seriousness and sobriety, a philosophical cast of mind not seen in America in these last “wild and crazy” decades. You see this new depth in our nominee Joe Biden, grown in the course of this campaign.
What this means: Philosophical maturation — of Biden at age 77, of America at age 244 — bodes well for the long-view mentality needed for the post-Trump repair job ahead, from the revitalization of institutions and norms almost lost to the reanimation of lives rebirthed. It also bodes well for America’s re-entry into the world — not as the arrogant bully Trump was, but as a colleague who recognizes the value of allies and alliances; who as a chastened super-power — who no doubt will remain a super-power — will handle power more wisely; who, as such, can hope to regain the world’s trust. And it bodes well for learning the home lesson of our recent history: to never, ever allow strongman rule again.
Meanwhile, consider the Republican string of disasters just in the 21st century (and pardon the forthcoming strongly partisan note): There was George W. Bush, the Iraq war, our shameful descent to torture, the 2008 financial crash, the omnifecta of disaster known as Donald J. Trump, his calamitous handling of the pandemic, another crash. And in the preceding century there was of course Richard Nixon, whose Watergate scandal birthed the public’s distrust in government. This dying party, the GOP, can ponder these things whilst deep in the political wilderness — and perhaps rebirth itself. (By the way: Why do polls still show greater faith in the GOP to handle the economy, when Republicans have crashed it twice just this century and Democrats have twice cleaned it up— with, as Fate would have it, Mr. Biden to lead the recovery both times?)
Build back better — for an America that’s fairer, smarter, greener, deeper. Not a utopian plan, but a salvage operation, working with the resources at hand and with the genius of the American people. Thank you, Mr. Biden, not only for this map for repair, but for running a non-ideological unity campaign, vital to repairing something else — America’s Soul.
Go, Biden-Harris! Go, Democratic House! And go, fingers crossed, Democratic Senate! Out of the Dark Ages, into the Renaissance.