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Saturday, February 27, 2021

The bar is so low

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As I watched former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife exit the inauguration, I commented to a colleague about how it’s refreshing to see Pence had the decency to attend the ceremony. He behaved with the dignity we’ve come to expect from our political leaders. However, that decency has been absent for four years now.

She agreed with my assessment and then she said, “The bar is so low.”

That even the most traditional activity is applauded shows how far this country has gone. Ever since I can remember inaugurations happen in January. The former president wishes the new president well and keeps it moving. Past presidents also attend and smile. The winner, loser and party affiliation no longer matter. Everyone acts with grace because the focus is on the country. We celebrate our democratic republic. The pomp and circumstance require decorum and respect.

All of that changed four years ago, when this country elected he-who-shall-not-be-named. The level of discourse hit an unimaginable low. I have never agreed with any president 100%, but I’ve never thought one was actually a danger to our country until the last one. The lies, racism, narcissism, nepotism, sexism and downright disrespect that came from the country’s highest office for four years has been exasperating. Sure, I’ll give credit when it’s due, and 45 made some good moves — the First Step Act comes to mind — but it’s been a you-know-what show for most of his administration.

Now, I’m not giddy with excitement about President Joe Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris, but as my dad said, I’m happy things will return to some semblance of normalcy. Living in Bizarro World was exhausting. I’m not giddy because politicians are gonna politician and no one or two people will fix all of our problems. My excitement is carefully measured as I watch what this new administration does to support Black Americans.

I’m happy we now have an administration that recognizes climate change and global warming is a problem again.

The bar is so low.

The one thing that has me most excited about the Biden-Harris administration is the country will finally have an actual plan for COVID-19 from the White House. The previous administration’s lack of information, lack of accurate information and inability to actually lead during a crisis has left this country divided between maskers and anti-maskers. COVID-19 shouldn’t even be a political issue, and it saddens me when I think about the hostility wearing a mask or not wearing a mask causes. It makes me angry that so many Americans — many of them Black — have died because of COVID-19 when they didn’t have to.

The bar is so low.

I look forward to press briefings again, so we have some direction of where this country is going when crisis erupts. I look forward to press briefings where the president’s press secretary doesn’t tell bald-faced lies and gaslight the press. I look forward to press conferences where the press secretary actually shows some respect for the press corps.

The bar is so low.

The bar is so low that transferring the White House Twitter account is a news story that several outlets wrote about. Now, that’s a shame.

None of these things are groundbreaking, but it will be refreshing just to have some sense of normalcy in these mundane aspects of the presidency. This will allow us to focus on the real work that Biden and Harris need to do because there’s a lot. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, the second Civil Rights Movement, economic crisis and global warming, just to mention a few.

The bar can’t remain low, and we should never let it get as low as it did.

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