The presidential campaigns of the past have been rich in issues, themes and ideas. Many of those concepts come from the platforms approved by the political parties at their conventions.
The candidates then go out to amplify those topics and add some of their own. The emphasis on the conversations and presentation choices during their travels depend on regional, urban, rural and life conditions as well as differences in the audiences.
In their presentations, the candidates honor the realities of American current life and speak about how to bettering that life in the future. They speak about their approaches to solving the county’s problems and how their candidacies contrast with that of their opponents.
Not so this time around as issues important to the nation defy the normal structure of campaign activity. It appears that the most significant and most immediate priorities are the pandemic that should be controlled before we can deal with its affects on everything else and the November vote because it has become the most important election of our time.
Also altered is the economic, social and political scene that also project contradictions. On the national scene, for example, the stock-market is hitting record highs while over a million people are applying for unemployment every week.
Another contradiction reveals one generation (the Millennials) actively opposing the ideas, attitudes and actions of parents and especially grandparents (the Boomers). A third example, more on an individual level, finds one of the speakers at the Republican convention, Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic that became an anti-abortionist, explaining the differences in relating to her Black son that differs from his White brothers when dealing with the police.
Although Johnson appears to support and credit policemen as smart, she nevertheless relates that she has had “the conversation” with her “brown son.” His White brothers do not have to worry about that. Perhaps because of her politics, she also predicts that down the road her Black son will have trouble with the law. It seems strange that a Conservative and avowed Trumpist is living the major racial contradiction of our time.
All of these issues have come front and center because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. It is this global health crisis that has highlighted American political division, laid bare the economic differences between the 1 percent and the rest of us, has made work and schooling a hazardous task, revealed the minority communities as front-line workers most affected by the virus, substantiated the notion that character and attitude are prime ingredients of leadership and underscores the call for our service agencies to do their job within an appropriate framework.
There are American institutions being attacked by the President, by aggrieved citizens and by foreign powers that want to manipulate our election. This is serious because our institutions were initially set up to protect and preserve values fundamental to our citizens. They are not designed to change. What needs to change are the values that no longer serve the American people. That requires a deep and frank conversation about our country, our democracy and our freedom because there is a real danger that we could lose all three. For that to happen, we should clear the table to make room for this conversation.
More immediate are the pandemic and the national election. The pandemic because we need to control it to get to the other important issues and the election because it is about our democracy and our freedom.