Against the backdrop of a still-rampaging, mutating virus and the menace of an 11th-hour insurrection mounted by Trumpist collaborators in Congress, many of us lurched into the new year with great anxiety and even a deepening sense of dread.
But let’s step back from the national abyss for a moment. Take a deep breath — from a safe distance— in the still-fresh dawn of 2021. Let’s count our blessings, think positive, and take stock of what’s likely ahead of us in the months to come.
There’ll be graduations and weddings, first communions and quinceaneras, barbeques and bar mitzvahs, road races and bike rides on the Neponset Greenway, kites aloft in Franklin Park, ball games at McConnell and Garvey and Harambee, and cold brews poured in the DBCo tap room. If the timing works out, on the first Sunday in June, we’ll gather again along the avenue to celebrate Dot Day as one big, diverse community. Have faith.
Spirits should be buoyed anew by the results from Georgia— still unofficial at this hour, but nonetheless compelling— that both new US Senators from the Peach State will be Democrats, thus enabling Democrats to wrest control of the body from the treacherous control of Mitch McConnell. In two weeks, a new president and vice president— joined by a Congress controlled by Democrats — can begin the work of restoring order and dignity to the federal government.
The shift cannot happen fast enough. Job No. 1 must be to centralize the country’s deployment and distribution of the Covid vaccines and to execute a coherent, effective strategy to contain the virus’s spread in the interim. Biden and the Congressional leaders must improve upon the most recent stimulus package to increase direct aid to businesses and individuals hobbled by the pandemic restrictions.
The need will likely grow more urgent in the days and weeks to come. This week, Mayor Walsh ordered a three-week extension to the pause on the “phase 2 re-opening”— keeping gyms, movie theatres, and museums shuttered through Jan. 27. It’s a prudent step given the city’s worsening virus metrics; it’s also one that will no doubt put further stress on small businesses and furloughed workers.
Early Wednesday morning, our state’s Legislature voted through a $626.5 million economic package aimed at spurring job growth through loans to businesses— similar to the federal Paycheck Protection Program— and other targeted spending. It’s a welcome assist.
But the real pivot must now come at the federal level, where the breakthrough in the partisan impasse in Congress clears the way, finally, for far more robust emergency spending to stabilize the economy until the most acute phase of the pandemic is extinguished.
The task before the new president and his team is daunting and it is made more so by the delusions and ravings of the man Joe Biden defeated soundly two months ago. Trumpism is itself a virus that has infected our body politic. This week, the assault on democracy by the outgoing president’s sycophants intensified, with dead-enders like Ted Cruz signaling their intent to contest the results of the election, despite their pitiful, total lack of evidence. The president himself, flailing about in a desperate and pathetic breakdown, has gone into full-on thug mode, threatening state officials in Georgia and even his own vice president, whom he has called upon to throw out the certified election results. It’s an act of sedition and treason without precedent in the republic that must not only be condemned, but also prosecuted.
In the end, Trump will do what he does best: fail. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will ascend to power in two weeks. In the troubling hours and days to come, we must fall back on that belief: Better days lie ahead for the nation.
- Bill Forry