Will America go through the door of opportunity?
The door to a renewed America is open. Will we walk through it?
What could be viewed as somewhat of a political experiment — the election and presidency of Donald Trump — is over. We took a chance on what a political outsider who was unafraid to “speak his mind” could deliver for the American people. Four years later, the experiment has ended with a slow erosion of democratic norms and rising political polarization culminating in an attack on the U.S. Capitol. At the time of this writing, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 had topped 400,000. Our country’s racial, political and economic fault lines appear to be deeper than they’ve been in decades, perhaps a century. Our nation is ailing, both in terms of the pandemic and in our political conduct.
However, there’s an opportunity to begin healing. During his campaign and his inauguration speech, President Biden called for unity and emphasized he would be a president for all Americans, stating “I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”
With Biden’s consistent emphasis on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the divisions in American politics, he may best be referred to as the “healer-in-chief.”
With the transition to a new president, a door has opened to a renewed America. We can harness new leadership and momentum to control the spread of COVID-19 and vaccinate our people. We can recommit ourselves to following the facts and the truth, even if they lead us to reconsider previous beliefs. We can embrace the system of democracy, advocating for our beliefs not through violence, but through civic activism and the ballot box. We can mend friendships broken by political differences.
The door is open, my fellow West Virginians, but it’s up to us to take the step. We must answer President Biden’s challenge to mask-up for the next 100 days. We must open our hearts and our minds to those of different races, classes, countries and political parties. And we must acknowledge that the process of electoral democracy, managed by Republican and Democratic secretaries of state and reviewed by justices appointed by Republicans and Democrats, has once again been free, fair and legitimate in 2020.
Walking through the door to a renewed America certainly doesn’t mean abandoning our principles, values and beliefs. I certainly expect we’ll all continue to have a long list of policy differences with the incoming administration and with each other. But it does mean acknowledging the individual power we have in keeping each other safe from this pandemic and conducting ourselves with a certain level of honesty and decency. 2020 was a dark year, but the door to a brighter future is open. Let’s walk through it together.