With the election finally called, the “You’re fired!” signs have been coming out, as we all knew they would. And given Trump’s bravado, Biden would certainly be entitled to join in the crowing. But he’s not. And wisely not. After all, he has to govern Trump’s 47% of the electorate, and he can’t do that starting off with a nanny-nanny-poo-poo. 

The worry, of course, is that Trump’s more rabid minions, fuelled by conspiracy theories spun by the likes of Q-Anon, are going to take up arms against what they regard as a socialist coup d’etat. I suspect there’ll be some of this, but I also suspect much of the putative polarization in America has been media hype. For the vast majority of Americans this Monday morning means back to work, school, play, and vacuuming the living room. God will be back in his Heaven, and the universe will continue to unfold, if not as it should, then at least as only it could.

While we were riveted to these four days of nail-biting, Covid 19 took advantage of our distraction by more than doubling the daily infection rate in America, from 60,000 to 125,000. That means, at a minimum, another 100,000 deaths by Inauguration Day. With or without a vaccine, it now seems to be the plan to end the pandemic by herd immunity. If with, well, fine. But herd immunity without a vaccine will mean a reduction of the population by about two and half million Americans. That might be the new normal for America, but as wartime Germany and Russia can attest, it won’t exactly be a new new normal.

Canada has a tenth of the population, and our deaths per infections are running at about a third of the American ratio. So without a vaccine, north of the border we’ll probably finish up with about 100,000 Covid deaths. As noted, this is the kind of thing the world has survived before, and it will again. But that’s small consolation to those citizens of the world who won’t.

But the key question, at least for me, is what Biden’s victory will mean for race relations in America. The murder of George Floyd has been an adrenalin jolt for both anger and activism. The two are not incompatible. In fact the latter owes much to the former. But just as white resentment has cathected Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter is cathecting white resentment. To lower the boil what America needs is not a Martin Luther King but a Nelson Mandela. Obama tried to be one, but he underperformed. The result: Donald Trump. No doubt Biden will try, but he’s the wrong colour. Kamala Harris may try, but she’s the wrong gender. But perhaps I underestimate either or both of them.

So as a not entirely disinterested observer – because as Chicago goes so, eventually, goes Toronto – in the months following the inauguration, I won’t be tracking the stock market, or the unemployment rate, or the pandemic, nor even any repair to America’s  standing in the world. I’ll be tracking police reform. Because that will be the measure of whether America is on track to “a more perfect union” or just more Jim Crow.

Categories: Editorials

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1 reply

  1. Because the Floyd case will be before the Minnesota courts for a long time, I’d ask you, Paul, to remember that it’s not murder until a jury says it is. Before that, it’s only a accusation, which the defendants will have the opportunity to rebut.

    I don’t think you will see much police “reform”, and the status quo is not Jim Crow. The flurry of calls to defund the police will fall on deaf ears and then fade away. The reason is that most of the people who fund the police have the view that most people who die in police custody or in attempts to arrest them had it coming, regardless of race. “Mental health crisis” is almost always now a euphemism for drug intoxication. Users of methamphetamine and phencyclidine are often violently psychotic and not rational enough to submit to a police threat of force. They are physically strong from the adrenaline-like effects and difficult to subdue, especially if use of opiates like fentanyl to take the nasty edge off meth prevents them from feeling pain from Taser or a punch in the head. Restraint in cuffs for prolonged periods, until exhaustion sets in, in positions that can lead to asphyxia is often necessary. (If the intoxicated person was armed, or appeared to be drawing or reaching for a weapon, he would likely have already been shot dead.). Mental health counsellors won’t go near these folks, and not much they can do anyway for this type of “mental health crisis.”

    And the drugs continue their dirty work. The intoxicated, restrained, exhausted, dehydrated, narcotized, partially asphyxiated suspect may then have a cardio-respiratory arrest — i.e., he dies — while being subdued, Especially if the person has chronic ill health from diabetes, alcoholism, or heart disease from tobacco and cocaine is he a heart attack waiting to happen. The police, stressed themselves, must then recognize the need to pivot instantly from subduing a violent person to resuscitating a dead one. After this chain of events, it is disingenuous for family to say, “We called the police because our son needed help…and they killed him!” But it makes a good sound bite.

    The people who fund police services expect the police to use their lawful monopoly on violence to protect us and our property against the dangerous classes. Damning them if they do and damning them if they don’t pretty much guarantees that no one who has a choice will want to be a cop, especially in places where the bad guys use guns against cops. If the police service we get under “reform” can’t or won’t enforce the law in the neighbourhoods where the dangerous classes prey on their neighbours, well, OK, food deserts for them, then. Canada is already on the verge of having to admit that it can’t exert sovereignty— its ability to enforce Canadian law—on land or water wherever it is challenged by certain classes of law-breakers…and the CBC doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. But the police damn well better draw the thin blue line somewhere clear where we live. What we have, mistakes and malfeasance and all, may well be the best we can get, given the awful people the police have to deal with, up close and personal, every day.


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