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The Healing of America

This is the name of a book by T. R. Reid that I read ten years ago. It describes the healthcare systems around the world against the backdrop of Reid's bum shoulder. He was NPR's London Bureau Chief at the time. With a wonderful sense of humor, this book informed us about the pros and cons of each healthcare system and described the underpinnings of the Affordable Care Act.

A decade later, we are still talking about the healing of America, albeit a political one this time. Many who voted for Biden last week are wondering whether the other half is racist, while grappling with how the Latinxs in Florida fled from socialism.

We've been told that Trump supporters are racists and Biden supporters are socialists. Of course some are on the fringes, but all, really folks?!

The reality is that America is full of single-issue voters. And the issues are the same on both sides - abortion, immigration, regulations, climate, judiciary, and government size. We are a two-party, two-opinion, two-vision country. We have always debated the same issues from two different perspectives. The beauty of our system is its simplicity: there is no option c! No coalition governments and no-confidence motions that complicate democracies. For decades, the conservative and liberal platforms have had merit, which explains the large number of independents. So what's different?

Trump's inflammatory rhetoric and blatant disregard for science is what is different. He has pushed us into two corners.

If you are pro-life, fiscally conservative, and want smaller government, then you are a Republican, you voted for Trump, and so you must be a racist. If you are pro-choice, socially inclusive, want to rout systemic racism, and think the government should do more then you are a Democrat, you voted for Biden, and you must be a baby-killing anti-Christian communist.

We are bickering, families are splitting, anger is at an all-time high between the alleged supporters of a racist and a socialist. Meanwhile the criminals are resorting to arms and harm. Sadly, our two-party system does not provide an alternative to endorsing republican principles without being aligned with Trump and endorsing progressive principles without being aligned with Biden.

To expect that a majority of conservatives would put more weight on Trump’s immoral, unethical, bigoted, unconstitutional behavior instead of focusing on his conservative accomplishments was a big ask.

Fortunately, enough focused on behavior and that's why Biden won. For that we have to be grateful.

Think of Bill Clinton and how we focused on his incredible economic accomplishments when confronted with the way he abused the power equation with an intern. We blamed the other side and the media for the hype. Today's Republican leadership is suffering from a severe form of the same disease as they willfully ignore Trump's deviancy - which is an order of magnitude worse than Clinton's ever was - in favor of his judicial, immigration, and trade wins.

The hard-hit, single-issue voter in Lordstown Ohio mired in social media disinformation doesn't deserve our ire, the dangerous conservative nexus in DC does.

I miss T. R. Reid's commentaries and his insights into the tangled webs we weave. Without healing and hope, tolerance and humor we will be free-climbing the political wall the way Emily Harrington scaled El Cap last week.



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