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Op-Ed: Decision 2020: The Clarity Election

By Adam Parkhomenko and Sam Youngman 


Do your eyes hurt?


The sudden clarity thrust upon this nation by a deadly pandemic, deadly racism and a deadly president can have the same blinding effect as seeing light for the first time. 


Yes, in 2020, we have clarity in abundance. We can all see clearly just how much everything sucks. In fact, we have perhaps never seen that so clearly. But we can also see ourselves, our country and our future more clearly than ever before. 


Think about it. It has never been easier or faster to tell if your fellow American is a self-centered dumb shit than if they are wearing a mask or refusing to wear a mask or making a scene involving swastikas in a Target. Clarity. 


For many years, there were a lot of dumb, cruel people walking among us, and we really had no way of knowing until they wrote a misspelled sanctimonious bible verse on the receipt at the restaurant where the server’s tip is supposed to go. 


Then came social media, the red hats, and the deplorables, who -- both to their amusement and ours -- self-identified as such, taking great pride in their awfulness. You found out pretty quickly that your libertarian uncle was actually just a racist asshole and your Aunt Karen was, well, you know. 


But there was still so much unseen. Democrats won in 2018, and we began to think this country was never as bad as Trump makes it seem. Then he skated on impeachment and nobody seemed to care. There were still too many days when too many Americans were still writing off the wrecking of our nation as just politics as usual. 


Then came the pandemic. 


Then they murdered George Floyd. 


This isn’t shit you can spin away. It is black and white and right in your face. While the ultimate orange asshole does his best to confuse everyone by flinging his own shit at the walls 24/7 -- two scoops after dinner -- we have reached a moment of national clarity that only national tragedies can provide. 


It is clear that the president of the United States doesn’t know what he’s doing. It is clear the president of the United States is a racist. It is clear that he let, at last count, more than 170,000 Americans die. It is clear that America is in trouble, and it is crystal goddamn clear that President Donald J. Trump is the main reason why. 


But like we said, we’re blessed with an abundance of clarity. And while it is painfully clear that Trump is a cruel and deranged butthead who shouldn’t be within a country mile of a White House tour let alone sitting in the little office next to the Oval Office eating cheeseburgers and yelling racial slurs at the tv, it is also becoming clear just how strong the ticket we have to take him on is. 


For most of 2019 and through the primaries and caucuses, we all heard some variation of this story from traveling political reporters: People love a lot of different candidates, but they’re picking Joe because he’s the smart or safe choice.


The idea, and it was espoused by more than a few Biden supporters, was that this election was too important to risk with an untested candidate or a gay candidate or a Black candidate or a woman candidate. And after 2016 and after watching years of Republicans persecuting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Democratic primary voters can be forgiven for assuming the worst of this country’s politics and trying to strategize around it. 


Of course, there are those who love Joe Biden. Did you see the Amtrak video on Monday night from the convention?! Holy shit! We were freaking crying! That is one likable dude!


But we can also understand the reservations a lot of people have about his past policies and some of the things he’s said. Hell, we’ve cussed at him on the tv a time or two or a hundred ourselves. So it wasn’t crazy to suggest that this was viewed as a strategic pick and that Biden was largely a safe white dude vessel we would all use to defeat Trump. 


But then something funny happened on the way to the convention: Joe Biden reminded us he can be lovable. And Kamala Harris is a big reason why.


The day after Team Biden announced the news, was perhaps the best Joe Biden has ever been on the campaign trail. That’s not hyperbole, folks. He’s run for president three times, starting back in 1988, and the speech he gave as he introduced Kamala was the best he has ever been. 


Moments later, Kamala showed everybody why Biden had to be so good. 


She blew the doors off. She had us standing as we listened. We clapped when it was over, the lonely applause bouncing off our solitary pandemic hideouts. 


And it’s not just Kamala. Look at the conventions. Look at the American heroes who have joined us. Would you rather be a party that hosts Mr. Floyd’s brothers to speak up for those whose voice was snatched from them or would you rather hear from those pasty thugs in St. Louis who saw Black people marching for equality and ran for their guns? Could the difference be more clear? Has it ever been? 


This was an election about defeating Donald Trump. And it still is. But now it’s also an election about making sure Joe Biden and Kamala Harris lead us out of this mess. They’re leaders we can be proud to support. We can get emotionally invested. We can get goosebumps. 


Our heads might’ve led us here, but our hearts are in the game now. 


Hate is a helluva motivator. And lord knows we hate what Trump has done to this nation and the office of the presidency. 


But as Democrats, love feels a lot more natural. And we love this ticket. 


It’s a clear winner. 

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