Are We Ready to Bring Some Basic Decency Back Into Politics?

Biden and Harris are showing Americans that we can do better.

In typical Trumpian fashion, the president engaged in the following attacks during his conversation with Maria Bartiromo on Thursday.

  • Kamala Harris is a mad woman.
  • AOC is not a smart woman, but she goes out and yaps.
  • Nancy Pelosi is stone cold crazy.
  • Joe Biden is dumb.
  • Barr should prosecute Obama/Biden before the election.

Of course, we’ve grown accustomed to that kind of rhetoric from Donald Trump. But the truth is that having a president who not only lies constantly, but engages in vicious attacks against anyone he perceives to be an enemy is exhausting. It’s like we’ve all had to live in Trump’s gutter for almost four years now, and it’s a pretty ugly place.

That’s why this tweet from Tom Watson caught my eye.

On Wednesday, I watched my Twitter feed explode during the speeches delivered by both Biden and Harris. They were good, but the reaction sounded like people who were dying of thirst finally getting a long, cool drink of water. That’s because the Democratic nominees not only spoke the truth, they displayed compassion for an America that is in pain, giving us hope that we can do better. It was all a reminder of how desperate we are for leadership that comes from a place of decency and humanity.

Tears are being shed as a lot of folks are finally seeing a potential light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Stories like this one from Stephanie Gray are going viral.

Just spent the last 2 hours phone banking here in Texas. I called a grandmother. She’s 91. Black. She answered so sweet. I told her who I was, and asked if she was registered to vote for November. She said YES MAAM! I said, “wonderful. I hope we can expect your support for the Biden Harris ticket.” She said, “Harris?” I said yes. She said, “He picked Kamala“ and broke down in tears, and started praying for Kamala. 😭

I started to cry because I knew why this moment was heavy. I asked her, “what was she feeling?” She said, “baby, I’m overjoyed. Look at God.” I told her I’ve been emotional all afternoon thinking about my slave great great grandparents, and how I wish they knew it would get better. She told me about her days picking cotton, and about her scarred hands.

She talked about her grandfather being lynched. She told me she hoped Kamala had the best security. She’s afraid someone will try to hurt her. We prayed again.

Before we hung up she told me to dream bigger than my last dream. I promised I would.

Thank you Mrs Ethel. ❤️

I am reminded that, while Cambridge Analytica contributed to the corruption of our politics, they got one thing absolutely right.

The two fundamental human drivers when it comes to taking information onboard effectively are hopes and fears and many of those are unspoken and even unconscious. You didn’t know that was a fear until you saw something that just evoked that reaction from you. And our job is to get, is to drop the bucket further down the well than anybody else, to understand what are those really deep-seated underlying fears, concerns.

It’s no good fighting an election campaign on the facts because actually it’s all about emotion. The big mistake political parties make is that they attempt to win the argument rather than locate the emotional center of the issue, the concern, and speaking directly to that.

After almost four years of an administration that plumbs the depths of fear and cruelty, it might be that Americans are ready for that other fundamental human driver: hope. As Ibram Kendi wrote, Trump “has held up a mirror to American society, and it has reflected back a grotesque image that many people had until now refused to see.” Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are telling us that we can do better.

There will be plenty of time to talk about specific policies and evaluate which ones will best address the many challenges we face today. But for right now, what I’m sensing is that people are exhausted from living in Trump’s gutter and are crying tears of joy at the prospect that we can do better.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.