The Poetry of Public Service

President Biden lays out the stakes & calls for a grieving, divided nation to work together, saying “My whole soul is in this.”

After four years of chaos, corruption, lies, and ultimately an armed insurrection, people across the United States and around the world have been counting down the hours and minutes until the powers of the US Presidency pass to Joseph R. Biden, Jr., as they did today at 12:00 pm EST.

Joseph R. Biden, Jr., comes to the Presidency at a moment of historic calamity. Multiple converging crises threaten the everyday, health, wellbeing, and security of the American people. During the turbulent and uncertain period of the transition—while the outgoing President fanned the flames of insurrection and refused to acknowledge defeat, and as daily COVID deaths soared above 4,000 per day in the United States—Biden effectively began his presidency by setting a tone of sobriety, care, and faithful service in hard times.

Today, President Biden reminded a divided country that “we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, the cause of democracy,” adding “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

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The Tyrant is Gone

Three hours before his term officially ends, Donald Trump has departed the White House for the last time, spoke briefly to a small crowd at Joint Base Andrews, and now has boarded Air Force One for a final trip as President to his home in Florida.

While he did wish the incoming administration “good luck”, he never mentioned President-elect Biden by name. Trump said he would be back “in some form” and ended his remarks with the famously dismissive phrase “Have a nice life.”

At the same hour, Vice President Mike Pence, along with leaders of both parties in the United States Congress, join President-elect Joe Biden for mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, a few blocks from the White House. 

As Trump the political vandal leaves behind his time in public office, a prayerful lifelong public servant who reads poetry brings solemnity back to the office, at a time of unprecedented national crisis—with more than 400,000 dead in one year, widespread economic hardship and food insecurity. 

This transfer of power takes place as we are still coming to grips with the hateful gravity of the terrorist insurrection Trump and his allies orchestrated (to use his own Attorney General’s word). 

Democracy has held. The people choose their leaders; their leaders don’t get to determine the outcome of elections. The Constitution provides the structure and sets the boundaries, and at 12:00 pm EST on January 20, all powers of the office pass to the person chosen by the people.

Countdown to Biden presidency



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Rebuilding begins

After four years of chaos, corruption, lies, and ultimately an armed insurrection, people across the United States and around the world are counting down the hours and minutes until the powers of the US Presidency pass to Joseph R. Biden, Jr., at 12:00 noon EST on January 20, 2021.

His task will be to build back better from the COVID crisis and the abuses of the Trump era, and his administration will immediately act against four major crises:

Rep. Meijer: I experienced the heinous assault on Capitol; now, time to face reality

By Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), in The Detroit News

I was one of the few Republicans who had already acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect, and earlier in the week I had joined a handful of GOP colleagues in noting our constitutional responsibility to certify the Electoral College results. We had seen calls on the far right for the vice president to pull an imaginary “Pence Card” and overturn the election results.

To the fringe, Vice President Mike Pence’s failure to seize fictional powers was tantamount to treason and there were suggestions Pence be put to death. While the Capitol was being assaulted by his supporters who were duped into believing the election was in fact a landslide victory and the true results could be overturned, Trump egged on these violent delusions.

Read the full article here.

Coup attempt at US Capitol must be punished with all force of law

What happened today at the US Capitol was an armed, paramilitary attack on the United States Congress. It was not a protest; it was not a riot. Armed militants used weapons to overwhelm Capitol security and carried out actions well described by federal law as part of a seditious conspiracy. Their intention, openly stated during hours of menacing chants and threats, was to disrupt the counting of Electoral College votes.

In the days before the attack, reports emerged of increasing online “chatter” among pro-Trump armed extremist groups, including threats of an armed attack.

This was an attempt to overthrow the Constitution of the United States. The law enforcement response must be commensurate with the gravity of the criminal intent. Every person involved, including those who helped to incite these actions using lies and false promises about changing the results of the election, must face criminal prosecution.

Less than an hour before the attack began, Donald Trump urged a mob to storm the Capitol and later condoned their actions. Earlier, his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani called for “trial by combat”; he later said they were on the right side of history—paramilitary conspirators waving the treason flag of the Confederacy.

Our democratic republic belongs to all of us, and it is sustained not by its leaders but by the people and by the rule of law. No person is above the law—not the President, not his lawyers, not those in Congress who would assist him in his seditious conspiracy.

Sen. Mitch McConnell rightly warned that the baseless effort by members of the House and Senate to nullify Electoral College votes, lawfully certified by all of the states, was not a “protest vote”, because “public doubt alone [cannot] justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.” He added:

The voters, the court, and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever… If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.

He recognized this even as yesterday’s Senate runoff in Georgia deprived him of the powers of Senate Majority Leader. Today, he was one of those defending democracy; for all of us who have disagreed with him on so many things, today, we are on the same side.

Rebuilding our democracy starts today—as we begin to distinguish between those who recognize democracy is a higher cause than their own power and those who would betray their country to seize power.

As we move to rebuild our democracy, I want to thank:

  • All those who serve in public office at all levels with honor and conscience, in good faith, seeking only to be of service and never seeking favor for themselves;
  • All of the Democrats who have so persistently and steadfastly opposed the evils inherent in Trump’s dangerous abuse of our politics;
  • Those Republicans who have spoken out forcefully against this madness; your courage, even in the face of terroristic threats, will help us to keep this republic.

America demands good-faith public service

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Then Vice President Joe Biden receives a briefing by Bob Fenton, Assistant Administrator for Disaster Response, FEMA on the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the ongoing recovery process at the Seaside Heights Volunteer Fire Department in Seaside Heights, N.J., Nov. 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

The United States has just pulled off an amazing and historic feat: In the middle of a devastating pandemic, as infectiondeath and hardship ravage the country, and amid a nonstop firestorm of disinformation, the people of the United States have held a free and fair election, with record numbers of votes cast, and no evidence of fraud found anywhere. Facing real personal risk and uncertainty about new voting processes, we have acted to keep the republic.

This was an accomplishment of the whole of American society: Despite the challenges — and the coordinated attempts at election interference from a sitting president and his allies — a record number of Americans voted, and the election was not only free and fair, but the most secure in history.

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Elect Biden & Harris to Rescue the United States

The stakes this year are far graver than any we have faced since 1864.

The election of a President of the United States is a national choice about the future. It affects, in many ways direct and many more indirect, the lives of everyone living in the United States. After four years of Donald Trump’s erratic, abusive presidency, democracy itself is at risk; the people of the United States must elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to rescue the country from disaster.

The only legitimate public official is the one that works as a servant of the people. Holding high office does not elevate one above the public; it means the public is the higher rank, to whom the office-holder must report. Taking the oath of office is not the recitation of words; it is an act: it serves only if the person taking the oath understands that he or she must be, at all times, a servant to all of the people, without discrimination and foregoing all self-interest.

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Hong Kong votes overwhelmingly for democracy

After months of mass pro-democracy demonstrations and sometimes violent crackdowns by police, the people of Hong Kong have voted overwhelmingly for pro-democracy candidates.

  • 71% of eligible voters turned out to vote, despite rumors of possible action by pro-Beijing forces to obstruct the voting.
  • Hong Kong’s Democratic Party won 90% of local council seats in the vote.
  • Pro-democracy candidates won 278 seats, while pro-Beijing candidates won only 42.

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Americans Vote for Vision, Reason & Service

The 2018 midterm elections in the United States were historic. A record number of women are going to Congress. Native Americans, immigrants, Muslims, and gay candidates, all saw historic breakthroughs. Far from putting Trump in charge of the American political landscape, the 2018 midterms revealed a more forthright, cooperative America, in which people of conscience work together to counter corruption and build a better future.

The Democratic Party showed itself to be a diverse party of the political future, attuned to the 21st century, full of new voices with fresh ideas, connected to a burgeoning movement of people demanding better civics. The Republican Party, by contrast, campaigned in a way that has shocked the conscience—echoing segregationist, white supremacist propaganda and anti-democracy conspiracy theory. It cannot win a national election going forward if this continues.

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Vote for Higher Purpose

The late Senior Senator from Arizona John McCain wrote that:

Human rights exist above the state and beyond history. They cannot be rescinded by one government any more than they can be granted by another. They inhabit the human heart, and from there, though they may be abridged, they can never be extinguished.

He was considered a “maverick”, because he sometimes voted against his party, when conscience—or his primary allegiance to the Constitution and the People of the United States—required him to. Honorable service requires recognizing that some things are more important than political parties.

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