Dear Grandkids and Great Grandkids,
How do I explain it to you in a few words? As I write this column on Sunday evening, I have no idea what will happen in the coming week. Nobody does.
One of these years, we might look back on this week as a puzzlement.
On the heels of an insurrection at the nation’s capitol, we are set to inaugurate a new president, anticipate the trial of the former president who was impeached for inciting the insurrection and deal with an economic downturn triggered by the pandemic.
Rather than seek solutions, our political leaders can't seem to even talk to each other, much less come together to solve our national problems.
It is almost as if we are in a war with ourselves.
Two weeks ago, our political turmoil was highlighted by an insurrection as a mob incited by the outgoing president stormed the nation's capitol. Five died, including a policeman. The mob gleefully ransacked the place as they searched for our elected representatives and took selfies of one another to document their triumph. The FBI has pinched over 100 of the gleeful rioters using these photos.
Elected leaders, who swore allegiance to the constitution, then voted to block the Congress from doing the very job prescribed by the constitution – counting the electoral college's votes.
But there is more. In the last 45 weeks, we have seen about 23 million Americans sickened with a virus called COVID-19. Nearly 400,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins Resource Center. Here in Maine, our state officials say we suffered more than 33,500 COVID cases and 507 deaths. Nationwide stats tell us that those over 65 are most likely to die if we catch COVID.
For the record, the latest U.S. Census figures tell us that 1.3 million of us live in Maine, and 21 percent or 260,000 of us are over 65. The good news is that more than 75,000 Maine folks got the first dose of a vaccine. Mass vaccinations are on the horizon.
This week, President Joe Biden, the Democrat who won the election, is being sworn into office surrounded by about 20,000 National Guard troops and thousands of police officers mobilized to protect an American president from his fellow Americans. Think about that.
It will be a somber celebration. There will be no huge parade, no flyover, no cheering crowds.
The new president is expected to tell us that we all need to come together to solve the nation's problems. He can lead, but will anyone follow his lead?
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the political class is learning the political world is turning upside down.
After the Capitol riot, more than 140 Republicans, including prominent Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, still objected to the official certified vote tally sent to Washington by their own state governors. They claimed the state vote totals were tainted by fraud and abuse. They mounted objections despite presenting no evidence. More than 50 court cases challenging the votes were thrown out of court by judges, including those appointed by the outgoing president himself.
Meanwhile, outside of Washington, dozens and dozens of major businesses, the same firms that sent bundles of cash into seven figures to those 140 Republican objectors, had enough of their political stunts. They vowed to no longer fund these pols.
If money is the mother’s milk of politics, as a California political leader said in the 1960s, it looks like mama has left the building for these objectors.
Oh yes, there was another development of note.
The same Congressmen who hid from the bloodthirsty mob were at odds over what to do about the outgoing president and his acolytes.
The House, controlled by the Democrats, acted to impeach the outgoing president for the second time. He was on his way out of office anyway.
Many of the same Republican House members who a few days earlier cowered in an undisclosed location as the mob raged through their legislative chambers, defended the outgoing president who sicced the mob on them in the first place. In a surprise move, 10 Republicans, including one in a leadership role, voted for the impeachment. Republicans voted to impeach a Republican?
This, my dear grandchildren, is why I said it is a puzzlement.
But, if you read your American history, and I hope you will, you will find we have been through tough times before.
Take a hint from an old grandpa, we will survive. But, if you are inclined to pray, this might be a good time to hit your knees.
Be well. Be safe.