One of the great advantages of having worked at a major U.S. foundation focused on entrepreneurship, teaching in a business school and being a member of the senior staff at the National Governors Association was the opportunity to make friends with individuals outside my usual sphere of amigos and acquaintances.  Despite the political and ideological differences, I held many of them in high esteem long after our professional association expired.  Which makes it all that much harder to understand their unwillingness to acknowledge the existential threat posed to American and global democracy by Donald Trump.

It was easier to understand in 2016, before Trump ever sat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.  Trump promised a lot and delivered on two items of importance to this audience:  lower tax rates and business deregulation.  On January 20, 2017, concerns about Trump’s authoritarian goals were speculative.  Once he took office, I assumed the wishful thinkers who thought being president would temper Trump’s worst inclinations would have a change of heart.  I was wrong.  Many ignored the warning signs–Charlottesville, Helsinki, Ukraine, his Lafayette Park response to Black Lives Matter, quack Covid treatments and calls for his political opponents to be jailed two weeks before the 2020 election.  Not to mention the 30,000+ lies.  Fortunately, just enough of them voted for Joe Biden or sat out the election to ensure Trump’s defeat by more than seven million votes, enough to carry six of the seven battleground states.

One would think, based on Trump’s post-election and out-of-office behavior, the choice this election cycle would be easier.  But anecdotal feedback from my conservative friends and national reporting from gatherings such as Davos 2024, suggest many of those who saw Trump as a threat in 2020 are more concerned about Biden four years later.  Even when one of their concerns proves to be unfounded, they shift to a new one.  Conversative economists predicted a post-Covid recession was unavoidable.  WRONG!  NATO was weaker than ever.  WRONG!  Biden was too progressive, even socialist.  WRONG!  It is hard to make that case when 14 million new jobs were created in the first three years of Biden’s administration, the unemployment rate is at a 50 year low, major corporations are besting Wall Street earnings estimates for the most recent reporting quarter and the Dow and S&P averages are at all time highs.  

Time to find a new reason not to vote for Biden, and of course. they did.  Here is how one friend explained it.  “I would feel better about Biden if Kamala was not the VP.”  This implies two things.  One, Biden will either die or become incapacitated before the end of a second term though there is no evidence that is the case.  Two, Harris is too much of a risk to trust as president.  My friend and others who share this opinion might want to reconsider based on their previous willingness to take an even greater chance in the past.  I am, of course, referring to 2008 when, I will bet the farm, many of them voted for John McCain.

Before running for president, McCain had been diagnosed with melanoma four times, the last coming in 2000.  Although there is no direct connection between these diagnoses and the glioblastoma tumor which eventually took his live, the melanoma removed in 2000 was Stage IIa compared to the most serious Stage IV.  Articles in recent medical journals suggest the survival rate 10 years after diagnosis is 65 percent.  In other words, if McCain had taken office in 2009, there was a 35 percent chance he would not survive the first two years of his first term.  Neither Democrats nor the press made this a major issue during the campaign.  Of course, Republicans had no concerns about their nominee’s health.

For argument’s sake, knowing McCain’s odds, you would think those who fear a Harris secession would feel the same way about his choice of a running mate.  Who did he choose?  Oh, Sarah Palin.  The governor of a state with less than 700,000 population at the time, no D.C. or foreign policy experience and unable to answer the questions, “Where do you get your news?  What magazines do you read?”  Compare that to Harris who has served as attorney general of the most populous state in the country, a U.S. Senator and a member of the Judiciary Committee, and has been able, as vice-president, to learn the job from inside-out.  Plus, she has Joe Biden with all his knowledge and experience as a mentor.  Palin’s top advisor when she ran for Alaska governor was John Bitney, described by The New Yorker as someone who “…is from Wasilla, Palin’s home town, and has known her since junior high school, where the both played in the band.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Instead of exuding hypocrisy, maybe it’s time for the anti-Harris crowd to look for the next reason to sit out an election which has a decent, pro-democracy, rule of law old man (yes, he knows he is old) who has guided the country through what even the most conservative economists say is the “unprecedented” success of stemming inflation without a recession. Or a pro-Russian, wannabe dictator and insurrectionist who has already been found liable of sexual assault, defamation (twice) and business fraud.  And when it comes to his legal woes, as Donald Trump, Jr.’s fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle reminded us at the 2020 Republican National Convention, “The best is yet to come!”

For what it’s worth.

6 thoughts on “HARRIS-ment

  1. Beware of situational ethics – especially when the future of democracy and our nation is at stake.

  2. I appreciate your optimism that a dialogue with Trump supporters could have even a slight effect on their loyalty. Any issues I have raised with different people always ends with the same outcome. I’m told the country needs a tough guy who “gets them” or they want “their “ America back. History does repeat itself and humans are easily manipulated. Makes the future look bleak to say the least.

    1. The people I am talking about are not Trump supporters. They are people who say they cannot vote for Biden. The task is to convince them if they don’t vote they are increasing the possibility they will wake up to a second Trump term on November 6.

  3. For further research. My sister had glioblastoma, and she was told by her oncologist that there was a connection between melanoma and GBM4.

  4. Oh mio, oh myo!! Nodding my head in agreement, as I read your observations and well-defended arguments, I am getting more and more depressed!
    Your head-scratching about how your more conservative associates could stick with Trump also afflicts me! In a similar vein, I was reading a report in The NY Times this morning of a focus-session with a panel of independent voters, that almost had me pulling my hair out too! I could not get over their propensity for contradicting themselves, expressing opinions supporting policies that reason clearly dictates will do nothing to advance their well-being, assuage their fears about the future or promote the common welfare! The level of shear ignorance pains and frustrates me! But of course, one applying rational thought and observations of the facts, cannot even suggest such “cluelessness” by such a large part of the electorate without being labeled as disrespectful or elitist. A critique of the naïveté and misinformed opinions of this group is conflated with character assassination and disregard for its members’ humanity. But in fact, that’s generally not the intent(at least not mine). Rather this indignation seems to be used as an excuse to suspend civil discourse and fuel polarization! I mean, what happened to the idea of merit and leadership earned through education and experience being a “good thing” ?! In my view, fear, ego and the true intractability of many of our communal problems are the real culprits driving the fractious circumstances we find ourselves in this moment. I can only hope that enough of us “wake up” before it’s too late.

  5. A simple response to those who would vote for trump or not vote for Biden:
    We must vote for whoever is the Dem candidate, even it is a tree stump, to eliminate the danger to this country if trump is back in the White House. Republicans can debate policy all they want. However, the danger of a trump presidency makes all other issues secondary!!!

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