The buck stops with us

By Pearl Benjamin | Nov 12, 2020

After four years of chaos and absurdity, I can finally sleep at night. The American people fired Donald Trump along with his team of unqualified, unproductive and unhinged nincompoops. We elected a pair of honorable leaders to the most powerful positions in the world. We put the first female vice president, a black woman, into office. We beat the ranters and the conspiracy theorists. But there’s still more work to do.

Defeating Trump is a huge step toward a more stable and united country, but it doesn’t fix all our problems. We can’t ignore the fact that more people voted for Trump in 2020 than in 2016, and the allure of his repulsive vitriol and bigotry is only growing. Replacing Donald Trump won’t end his influence. If we don’t work to address the spreading roots of racism and white supremacy, Trump - or someone like him - could easily rise again.

We also need to be ready for four relatively unproductive years in Congress. Without a Democratic majority in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will continue to block every critical bipartisan bill that lands on his desk. Although we didn’t succeed in replacing Susan Collins, Georgia voters will get one last chance to flip the Senate in January with two critical runoff races. Democrats need to focus their efforts on getting Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff elected. Mainers can help too. We can donate to the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns and to Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight voter mobilization organization and spread the word to friends and family across the country. The battle for the Senate isn’t over yet.

We need to be willing to criticize the administration we elected. Unlike Trump’s cult-like following, Democrats possess the capacity to question and critique their leaders while supporting them. We need to hold Joe Biden and Kamala Harris accountable — they’ve made plenty of promises that must be kept. That being said, now is a time to celebrate. We don’t need to slam our leaders until they’re actually in office. Until Jan. 20, I’ll be reveling in Biden’s victory. After that, I’ll be fighting hard for every restorative action the President can possibly take on his own.

President Biden can’t make the massive, sweeping changes we’ve been waiting for without the support of the Senate. If McConnell fulfills his pledge to obstruct at every turn, he’ll have to take full advantage of his executive power. Some may frown upon that. But in a time of crisis, when hundreds of thousands of people are dying, he won’t have much of a choice. Biden doesn’t need to ask Mitch McConnell’s permission to save us from the plague and pull the country out of a recession. Using his own power, Biden can mobilize the production and delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine. He can utilize the Defense Authorization Act to quickly scale up the manufacture of PPE, therapeutics, and vaccination and testing supplies. He can rejoin the World Health Organization, allowing the United States to coordinate its coronavirus response globally.

Although a Republican Senate will continue to block comprehensive efforts at addressing climate change, we can still make some large strides. The Biden Administration can rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and get back on the path to zero carbon emissions. According to a detailed analysis by the Climate Action Tracker, Biden’s climate plan could put the Paris Agreement’s targets “within striking distance.” With executive power, we can accelerate the EPA’s environmental workforce job training program and create thousands of jobs that will revamp our economy. We can establish a federal task force for coal and power plant communities to aid the clean energy transition. We can restore critical emissions regulations. And of course, President Biden can declare climate change the national emergency that it is, unlocking critical funding and mobilization pathways.

Donald Trump’s immigration policies were xenophobic, cruel, and inhumane. As president, Joe Biden will have the power to roll back policies that harmed so many children and families and restore our standing as a nation that values human rights. He can get rid of the travel bans on Muslim countries end policies that block asylum seekers, dedicate resources to reuniting the families that Trump separated at the border and reinstate DACA, allowing thousands of Dreamers to continue their lives in America.

And there’s more. Once in office, President Biden can restore transgender people’s ability to serve in the military. He can develop a new consultation process with Native American Tribes so that fossil fuel and pipeline projects won’t be carried out on their land without their consent. He can restore protections of federal lands. He can remove liability protections for gun manufacturers. He can build a diverse, educated cabinet that truly resembles the American people and works in their interest. With a skilled set of advisors and a productive team, Joe Biden can truly repair our country, even without the Senate’s support.

This election was never about one person. It was about the desperate need for representation, reparation and progress. I believe that Joe Biden can put the right leaders in the right places and fight for all of us, but we all need to ensure that he does. We can’t ever stop mobilizing, writing, voting and making our voices heard, because where the buck really stops is with us.

Pearl Benjamin is a Camden resident, soon to attend Middlebury College in Vermont.

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Comments (14)
Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Nov 15, 2020 09:53

Ms Benjamin's was spot on. Donald Trump, in my opinion, is the poorest excuse for a president I have seen in my lifetime. I don't care what party he belongs to the man is a self-centered, egotistical poor example of how a life should be lived. The back of his head will not only be a pleasure, it will be a great relief. Anyone that quotes the bible all the time and has Trump as a hero needs to take a long look in the mirror.

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Nov 14, 2020 21:12

You've convinced me Merton. I'm gonna call tRump and ask if I can change my vote from Biden to him. Maybe he will let me borrow some of the boys packing their military hardware to make sure Pelosi or some crazy angry Democrat doesn't try to burn down the city trying to destroy my ballot.

Posted by: Merton Sawyer | Nov 14, 2020 19:48

Ayuh....I think your'e wrong Crawford....and what Ms. Benjamin said about President Trump and his supporters was not 'even tempered' George. "....unqualified, unproductive, unhinged nincompoops"? Also, how many of our cities have been destroyed by Trump supporters? ZERO.....and all the cities that were destroyed by Biden supporters? ALL OF THEM.....on that evidence alone we all. ought to be able to see who are the so called 'unhinged nincompoops' can you defend their actions? You cannot reasonably do that....and Im not saying they are all like that...there were peaceful protestors....there are bad seeds in every crowd and the leaders of our Country in those States encouraged it and did nothing to stop it. It isnt President Trumps fault that those things happened either.....a person cannot make someone else take over and torch cities, that's a decision they made personally. Im not sure if people were punished for those actions either....maybe they were and I haven't heard about it....anyway, where am I wrong here? I'm really not upset,  especially with you, Crawford or George.....I think I have just pointed out the common sense things here....and I was only asking Ms. Benjamin for some constructive things without the destructive things such as the name calling.... thanks guys for your opinions. I do like to hear what you think.

Posted by: George Terrien | Nov 14, 2020 12:45

Ms. Benjamin, I found your column evenly tempered, clear, thoughtful, and presented with an even temperament and from sound judgment.  Though from my reading of it I had intended to transmit just this comment to you, after reading some of the other comments that preceded my reading, I need to add another thought.  Please, keep exercising the qualities you express as a constructive critic and lucid columnist.  Our collective future needs I think should appear to all of us facing it with you squarely.

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Nov 14, 2020 09:47

I think you have it a little backwards Merton. That's exactly what is happening by the poor loser acting like a child in the WH and his loyal followers hypnotized by Faux 'News'. He lost the election by both a 290 to 232 electoral vote margin AND a popular vote lead of 5,371,590 Americans (and still counting). That's almost double what Hillary led Trump by in 2016 when she handed over power without a whimper like an adult without creating further loss of taxpayer money spent chasing smoke and mirror conspiracies, trumped up lawsuits and pointless vote recounts. Folks need to stop being led by feelings and go with facts and common sense and work with a new responsible President to heal this nation. The childishness needs to end.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 14, 2020 08:48

Life is great here on the Coast of Maine. As long as there are young people like Pearl Benjamin and Michael Mullins; who know what civility and common good are all about; our future is in safe hands.

Posted by: Merton Sawyer | Nov 14, 2020 07:32

Yes Crawford....and you know I just meant upset.... I was just repeating the quote....but it's true....there is restraint on the right...none on the left....that ought to tell us all something about whats right and wrong.....we dont act out like children when things dont go the way we want....doesnt it just appear like thats what has happened?

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Nov 13, 2020 21:53

You know what they say about pissed off Merton....

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 13, 2020 19:07

We are seeing how refreshing it is to have a commander-in-chief who knows how to spread hope and healing with humility. Don't know about you, but I am ready for that. ;)  Thanks for the thoughtful article, Pearl.

Posted by: Merton Sawyer | Nov 13, 2020 17:55

One more point that I repeated in another post is this; 70 Million pissed off Republicans.... 0 destroyed cities.

Posted by: Merton Sawyer | Nov 13, 2020 17:51

All of the vitriol and racism, disruptive nonsense for the past 4 years has originated from the Democratic side of this Country. Donald Trump has been pitting things back together. His side is no more racist than I am. When someone says "ALL LIVES MATTER" or "ALL SOULS MATTER", that is not racism. All black lives are a subset of ALL LIVES. My life doesnt matter any more than theirs and theirs do not matter any more than mine. It's devicive to single out one more than the other, on either side. The Democrats have done NOTHING during the last four years other than to focus on trying to use ANY means to remove President Trump from office and create distraction after distraction to separate the sides. The right has not been separating the Country, it is the left.

This person writing the article has given their opinion and Im giving mine. That's what it's all about, isnt it? Free speech? President Trump has done a lot of good to try to keep our Country from going down the slippery slope toward socialism and I'm glad of that. Our government needs to be smaller and not larger. Maybe there are people that are blinded to that fact but I dont want to be giving up all my rights and certainly dont think everything is "fair" in life. I have certainly experienced that. It is NOT my responsibility to take care of everyone and it is not their responsibility to take care of me. There are certainly kind actions toward me that I have needed and very much appreciated. I have also done things personally to help others. That is what needs to happen, although we know people are inherently selfish. We dont need programs that are funded by our government that take money from all the citizens in the Country because some "special interest" lobbies to get it to done. Lets take care of all of our own citizens before we take care of the rest of the world population as well.

There are two sides to every argument. In the end, "Man deviseth his way, but the LORD directeth his steps." We need to pray hard for our Country and all of its citizens.

Posted by: Paul Rosen | Nov 13, 2020 07:42

Mr. Sawyer, "This is a rant filled with evil conjecture", "This is anger", seriously??!  After 4 destructive years of divisive, rudderless, hate-fill vitriol and bigotry, you criticize this young woman's heart-felt, passionate plans and thoughts. Ignorance has prevailed for too long, now is the time for thoughtful, intelligent, forward thinking and responsible citizens to undertake repairing the damage to OUR Democracy caused by the current madness and disfunction. We need to support all the young, bright, fully engaged people like Ms. Benjamin for OUR Democracy to survive, and once again thrive. Legitimate anger at the disingenuous, outrageous and ongoing attempt by a deranged autocrat to takeover and destroy OUR Democracy is not a bad thing. The curtain has been pulled back!

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Nov 12, 2020 13:57

I think Biden can get 'er done too Pearl in spite of the continual obstructionism. Thank you :)

Posted by: Merton Sawyer | Nov 12, 2020 11:36

This is a rant filled with evil conjecture AND not one of unity and a plan to move our Country in the right direction. This is anger.....something I do not want to stir up, honestly. Why such a hateful attitude? Doesn't that divide instead of unite? Come up with something constructive to say please, not destructive. Thank you.:)

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