Rudolph Fillinger | A Very Sick America Needs Healing

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

America is very sick and will require all our support if we are to recover. The failure to embrace the results of the November election has further deepened the divisions throughout our country that threaten our very existence. The coronavirus pandemic continues to take lives around the country while wreaking havoc on medical facilities and pushing first responders to the brink of collapse. Many businesses struggle while others collapse because of the uncontrolled surge of the virus. Citizens across the country wait hours to be tested for COVID-19 at makeshift testing sites while others wait in long lines to receive food from food pantries to feed their families. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweets out that he won the election while he ignores his presidential duties as he tees off at one of his golf clubs.  

Trump and his cadre of sycophants refuse to recognize the results of a free and fair election, risking the security and welfare of every American. Our adversaries search for weaknesses to foment discord that tears the fabric of our society as coronavirus cases and deaths surge. Instead of offering support through passage of an additional COVID-19 relief bill that would help small businesses remain viable, allow people to pay rents and mortgages, and enable parents to feed their children and provide life-sustaining medications to aging grandparents, Republicans are focused on the president’s legal assault on our election and their weakening Senate majority rather than the health and welfare of America. 

According to Stuart Stevens, “Republicans have sent a message that lying is useful and productive, racism is acceptable, the press is the enemy, and a strong-man authoritarian head of government is ideal” (“It Was All A Lie — How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,” Stuart Stevens, 2020). 

Again, Republicans appear to be interested only in retaining power in the pursuit of financial rewards.  

As COVID-19 ravages America, Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills aimed at helping average Americans to the Senate floor for a vote, while remaining focused on confirming more right-wing jurists to the federal courts to continue to enrich wealthy Americans while restricting the rights of ordinary Americans. As of April 25, the Senate has confirmed 193 Article III judges nominated by Trump, including two associate justices of the Supreme Court, 51 judges for the Courts of Appeal, 138 judges for the U.S. District Courts, and two judges for the U.S. Court of International Trade ( Moreover, the Senate subsequently confirmed the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court right before the election. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was passed by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law by Trump on March 27. The CARES Act was intended to provide fast and direct economic relief to American workers, families and small businesses, and to preserve jobs. Unfortunately, the implementation of the CARES Act often led to delays, confusion and frustration for many Americans trying to access their benefits. According to a Brookings Institute Study (“Did CARES Act benefits reach vulnerable Americans?”), racial minorities were much more likely to experience delays in receiving benefits, men were more likely than women to experience delays, and very low-income households were also more likely to experience issues in receiving benefits than those with higher incomes. The CARES Act expires on Dec. 31. Many Americans wonder if Congress will pass additional benefits as the coronavirus surges. House Democrats narrowly passed a $2.2 trillion relief package that would extend a $600 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits through January. However, the bill has met substantial resistance by Senate Republicans. 

As we enter another holiday season, we crave leadership that will help us restore our democracy and deliver innovative solutions to fight the coronavirus and restore our economy as well as rebuild government to be responsive to the whole of America rather than the financially elite. We need innovative ideas and solutions to a plethora of problems, instead of bigotry and hate. Unfortunately, our body politic has devolved into a partisan war to maintain power at all costs. Sen. Lindsey Graham continues to focus on challenging legally cast ballots in Georgia in the pursuit of power rather than helping America survive the pandemic. Graham’s attack on the integrity of the 2020 election clearly demonstrates the depraved indifference to every decent American and the rule of law that is fundamental to our very existence. 

Historian John Meacham stresses “the need for ‘external vigilance’ as the price we must pay to preserve our liberty.” Moreover we need to “enter the arena, resist tribalism, respect facts and deploy reason, find critical balance, and keep history in mind” (“The Soul of America,” 2018). I fear our current leadership has failed to resist tribalism and does not respect the facts nor the rule of law. 

Hillary Clinton conceded the 2016 election to Trump several days following the election, stating, “We owe him (Trump) an open mind and the chance to lead.” Republicans need to embrace the results of the election and demand the president and all Americans support the peaceful transition of power. For our democracy to survive, hope needs to conquer fear and the electorate must educate itself to the facts rather than listening to political propaganda. 

Stevens wrote, “What the Republican Party must realize is that it needs America more than America needs the party. And the America it needs is the one that is 320 million Americans and growing, a country of immigrants and less white every day: the real America, not the gauzy Shangri-La of suburban bliss that never existed. I’d like to say I believe the party I spent so many years fighting for could rise to that challenge. But that would be a lie, and there have been too many lies for too long.” 

We need to reject Rudy Giuliani’s assertion that truth is not truth. We need to return honesty, integrity, decency and humility to government. Character matters. We need to demand more of our leaders and ourselves. 

Only then can we begin the long road to recovery. 

Rudolph Fillinger


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