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Rehabilitation


I don't know about you, but I feel pretty damn good this week.


Our former president didn't drop the mic, it was cut off mid-sentence. In the silence that ensues, we can now create the space in hearts and minds to start the processing. This particular strain of silence, I missed it so much. I had no idea that it would be so thoroughly squashed 5 years ago, and how precious it was. Now that it's back, perhaps temporarily, it's like a luxury vacation for my mind.


And my brain needs it, this respite. I have spent an unfortunate amount of time reacting to the former president and developing a deep abhorrence and loathing toward him, his family, his associates, and even his supporters. It hasn't been good for me. After his inauguration in 2017, I was up in Washington, standing by as my mom was dying. I camped out on her bed, scrolling my phone late into the night, reading story after story of what the new President was doing. The Muslim travel ban was the final signal the country was slipping into something dark, something terrible, and I was scared. I'm not saying that I invented doom scrolling, but I was an early adopter, and I think it broke my brain a little bit, as any addiction will.


I'm looking forward to some rehabilitation. For the moment, I'm just enjoying the idea that someone who cares will be in charge. That alone is enough to perk up my days, and I just want to relish this feeling.


On Wednesday, I watched the inauguration from early in the morning, when people were just milling around the Capitol stage. I wanted to keep an eye on things. And I also felt, despite the real fears of attack, that nothing out of the ordinary was actually going to happen. I mean, aside from thousands of National Guard troops there and flags standing in for hundreds of thousands of people. I watched mostly because I wanted to see Kamala Harris get sworn in, and I also wanted to know the precise moment when Biden would hold the mantle of power the presidency confers, and our previous president's grip slipped off. And when the power shifted, I felt nothing but happy.


Biden was never my pick. I went to high school in Delaware, so he was my senator for 4 years in the mid 80's. His part in the discrediting of Anita Hill during the confirmation hearing for Justice Clarence Thomas is something I won't ever forget, it disgusted and enraged me. I never really bought his schtick, and after his first two failed presidential runs, I figured nobody else did either. So when he jumped in again for 2020, I thought it was absurd, beyond ridiculous.


I've always cared about national politics, and have followed it closely since I was a teenager. And if there is one thing that I have learned, it's that politics is the most unpredictable game one can play or watch, and nobody really knows anything about how things will turn out, especially me. It's astounding that we find ourselves in this moment, with Biden at the helm. And it has forced me to re-think him as a person, and a politician. I wonder-- why did we pick him? There is the obvious top layer: a privileged white man who has risen to elder statesman by sheer endurance, representing stability and a return to normal business. It's not terribly inspiring, nor does it really meet the moment of profound change that we are all experiencing.


But I'm also thinking that maybe Biden, with his many years in politics and public service, has at last figured a few things out. He is going to have to marshal a tidal wave of invisible forces to achieve some of his administration's goals, call in some serious magic, him _and_ the team of people he's putting in place. Can he do it? Can _they_ do it? I really don't know.


But I'm going to do my little part, whatever that is. And wishing the best for his and our success as a nation.

 

Meanwhile, the pandemic. I don't know if there is anyone who is happier to have a new president than Dr. Fauci. Watching him give a press briefing the words "Fauci unleashed" came to mind. [He is beyond delighted](https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a35282569/dr-fauci-briefing-biden-trump-vaccines/) and he didn't attempt to hide his relief.


More capable hands are now on deck, but the ship has already hit the iceberg, and at this point every day counts. The next few weeks are going to be very interesting as we watch the Biden administration get a grip and attempt to deliver the promised 100 million vaccinations over the next 100 (now 96) days. It's going to be the first big test and a prime indicator of what the next couple of years will look like as we recover.


Unfortunately there's not much the average person can do at the moment besides watch, wait for this puzzle to start falling into place, and try not to catch or spread the virus in the meantime. It is the easiest and the hardest thing to do.

 

Some things I read and listened to these last couple of weeks:


As the Trump years finally come to an end, your host contemplates collective guilt and shame. Émigration Intérieure


Isabel Wilkerson on why a new presidency alone can't fix America's 400-year-old race-based hierarchy. America's Caste System is 400 Years Old, That Doesn't Change Overnight, Sway podcast


People who support white supremacy are not emboldened by a lack of shame, they're emboldened by a lack of accountability. Brené on Words, Actions, Dehumanization, and Accountability Unlocking Us podcast


Could a truth and reconciliation commission help the country heal? Don't Move On Just Yet, Quinta Jurecic, The Atlantic_


The story of the scientists who created the vaccine from Moderna. The Other Extinguishers, This American Life, podcast_

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At the risk of being repetitive, wow-- what a week. Before I get to anything else, let me wish you a happy new year, whatever that means, whatever that looks like for you. Part of the calamity of 2020