Six months ago, we took a self-imposed sabbatical from the editorial pages of the Waco Tribune-Herald, having no idea just how much weirder things could get in these somewhat United States.
Back then the novel coronavirus had taken “only” some 100,000 American lives, we were blissfully unaware of the “Proud Boys,” and one might still imagine that surely there was some year when the president-to-be actually paid his fair share of personal income taxes into the system he longed to manage. And it was not yet known how deeply the president’s callousness might run when it came to the safety of everyone from those in the armed forces to his personal White House staff to the governor of Michigan.
The events during our six-month absence best are described as “worst case scenario.” Even Nostradamus could not have predicted a Rose Garden event to push through a post-election-start Supreme Court nominee that would turn into a super-spreader event. Our hope that we might return to the Trib to find less divisive times turned out to be no more realistic than expecting the coronavirus to “magically disappear, as if by a miracle.” (Though perhaps our goal of not costing the Trib any additional subscribers or advertisers was fulfilled, as the peculiar level of animosity our columns often generated subsided.)
The one positive thing we can say about this election is how much it does to the old adage that all the candidates are the same and voting makes no real difference. No modern president has ever been so universally embraced by white supremacists or been so timid in his willingness to condemn them. Democratic Joe Biden, by contrast, accepts the word of the FBI director and other national security officials that our greatest terrorism danger comes from these homegrown extremists — the ones urged by Trump to “stand back and stand by,” the ones urged by Trump to “Liberate Michigan.”
The Trump-centered chaos of the last four years turns out not to be an accident. If one is an authoritarian narcissist, being the star and potential savior of each day’s new crisis is a plus. During the primaries we’d worried Biden was a bit dull and too moderate compared to some of the other candidates. But the public’s exhaustion with Trump, as well as Trump’s inability to successfully tag Biden as a far-left hazard to liberty, now persuade us that Joe may be just what is needed to give critical swing-state voters an alternative they’ll accept.
We observe a number of younger, white, liberal males who still ponder whether to vote Green Party or sit this election out. They worry Biden is not liberal enough, that crooks on Wall Street will never be called to account and that the most needy will remain the least protected. We ask them to be true to their progressive roots by joining us in listening to the women in their lives. By not assuming that their own ability to survive four more years of Trump makes it worthwhile to recklessly gamble his re-election might somehow cause a true liberal to be elected in 2024 to clean up the mess.
A recent Fox News poll showed Biden to be leading Trump nationally by 10 points but the gender gap in women versus men supporting Biden to be +19 points. Whether in other national polls or ones from battleground states, the trend is a strongly consistent one.
Does Trump tend to remind women of that guy at work who won’t let them speak in meetings? Of an abusive ex-husband? Of the arrogant boss who is never slowed by his ignorance? Of the frat boy in college who didn’t believe that “no” meant “no”? All of the above?
Instead we surmise they simply see more clearly than the men in their lives how the safety and economic health of them and their families is too precarious to await a more perfect candidate while others use this election as an excuse to take part in testosterone-poisoned displays of AK-47s and Trump flags. The overwhelming rejection of Trump/Pence by many women is no surprise in a state like Texas that has produced some of the sharpest minds and clearest hearts in public service. Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Barbara Bush — the list goes on, but all reflect the unflinching wisdom and wit of the Texas woman.
Women in Texas and elsewhere are able to see and accept what many men simply cannot: the fundamental importance of integrity, empathy and humanity in those chosen to lead our country. We are in awe of those women who speak courageously and earnestly in their support for Biden/Harris, or their opposition to Trump/Pence, often putting them at odds with others at the office, in church or on social media. We admire the determination of many others, quietly planning to vote their own conscience and allowing a spouse or brother to make mistaken assumptions about what that decision might be.
For voters still on the fence, know that in this election a vote for anyone other than Biden/Harris is a vote for Trump. Trump openly admits he doesn’t necessarily plan to leave office, even come 2024. By then he will have so packed the courts that even a President AOC could make no meaningful headway on issues such as climate change or universal health care. Male voters considering holding out for something better four years from now will do best to set aside their privilege and listen to those who will suffer most and be protected least if we continue down the present road. Listen to the women in your lives.
David Gallagher is a transplanted Texan, living and working in London and tweeting at @TBoneGallagher. David Schleicher is a Waco attorney who represents businesses, non-profits, and federal employees. Their prior columns are at ContranymTimes.com.
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