Democracy at Risk

PRENOTE: Tonight, on-line, 7p.m. CDT if you wish.  The Wall, 2018 Click for details.  Pre-register if you wish to join the conversation.  Film is free on YouTube.


In too many ways I feel like we’re all at a crossroads of history for our Democracy…and “we, the people” seem in polar opposite camps.  Anyone who thinks that being a spectator is enough is fooling only themselves.  Inaction is the most negative side of action.

This week, President Biden talked about Democracy in Philadelphia.  His remarks are here.  Also this week, Texas Democrat legislators left their own state in protest to what they feel are anti-democracy initiatives advanced by the majority in the Texas state legislature.  Their’s is an act of courage.

Several books were released this week about the chaotic end times of the previous presidency.  Readers know I like Just Above Sunset, and the midweek commentaries, “Late Additional Details“, and “The Gospel of the Fuhrer” deserve reading and a great deal of citizen reflection and action.  Each one of us is the solution.

As the week ends, the Biden administration and the Democrats are advancing what I’d refer to as the common persons American economic recovery and stimulus package, and a defense of what all of us have benefitted from in this democracy.  They are very large initiatives, in two parts.  In common citizen terms, it is like doing a remodel of the old house, whose resale value is needing updating.  This is an instance where spending money is essential to making money.  The process of updating will help others: the folks who sell and install the new furnace, etc., etc., etc.  That’s how we recovered from the 2008 near catastrophic economic collapse, which all of us remember.

Sure there’s plenty of “yah, buts” out there – we are a very big, and very wealthy, country after all.  I think of the immense tax cuts (pay raises) for the already wealthy, given by Congress and the then-President in 2017 – long before Covid-19. The recipients of the 2017 gift are the kind of folks who can pony up $250,000 – and will – to take a few minutes flight to the edge of space.

Ordinary folks need a break too. We need to work together.  The alternative is something we very nearly experienced January 6.  My picture for the ages evokes the horror of what almost happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.  May such an atrocity never happen again.

A 1905 poster of the U.S. presidents in front of the U.S. Capitol. Found in the basement of Busch farm in ND in 1993.  The last president pictured is Theodore Roosevelt.  No it’s not a perfect poster…or bunch of leaders…but it still represents stability and common purpose.


This has been a week where the guard is being let down on the pandemic.  I’ve experienced this in many ways at many places.

Monday, one of the staff at my Caribou coffee place pulled up the “social distance” signs on the floor for over a year.  I asked if I could have one, and she fished it out of the trash.

In all sorts of ways, the rules we’ve basically lived under since about March of 2020 have come down, at least for the moment.  Most of us seemed to try to follow the reasonable rules.  Mostly you’ll still see me with a mask at the ready, and most people I see informally hold the social distance rule, and probably the hand-washing, etc. etc.

There remain warning signs that we are not out of the woods.  Tuesday we took our 91 year old friend to the emergency room at the local hospital – a too scary heart episode for him, and he lives alone.  The emergency room was so crowded with people that the visitors who were there with patients – one per patient – were asked to give up their chairs.  The issue was, apparently, too few available hospital beds; and possibly not Covid-19, at least not primarily.  I had not seen a similarly crowded emergency room, and I hope it’s no harbinger.

All in all, a simple visit took 5 hours.  Our friend is back home.  It was a very long evening.  We took turns.

I hope what I witnessed in person at the hospital this week is not a harbinger of the future.


We recover from the pandemic, or not, together….

We recover from our very near miss on a national political tragedy, or not, together, as well.  May Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people, for the people


In this weeks mailbag came a counter view, a friend from a different political planet than I:

I wrote a personal letter to my friend.  It’s my own way of confronting such dangerous opinions.  I’m older than President Biden.  Sure, things change, but be careful about making judgements based on gratuitous insults.

Saturday morning July 17, 2021:

Last night we went to our first Minnesota Orchestra concert since March 5, 2020…which was second to the last public event that day, and the last day of such outings during the pandemic.

It was a fabulous concert.  The first full orchestra concert since 2019, the announcer said.  The auditorium, which seats 2089, the sign said, probably was one-fourth full.  The program included a brief announcement: “Dima Slobodeniouk, who was originally scheduled to conduct this week’s concerts, is not Abe to appear with the Minnesota Orchestra this week because of COVID-19 related visa and travel restrictions.  Music Director Osmo Vanska will conduct the concerts in his place.”  As Orchestra regulars know Vanska has, since 2003, been the Orchestra’s music director.  He was to be on vacation, and filled in on two days notice.

The program was fairly brief, but magnificent: Hector Berlioz, Le Corsaire Overture; Florence Price, Piano Concerto; Richard Strauss, Death and Transfiguration.  to read the complete program notes:  I am guessing any of these pieces can be found on YouTube.

Back home, six hours later, the latest on the increasingly bizarre anti-vaccination movement and its increasingly certain dire consequences.  “The Defiant Dead”

Orchestra program cover Juy 16, 2021

Video Phone (“picture phone) demonstration at the White House in 1964, from National Geographic Magazine, December, 1964, page 750



2 replies
  1. James Van Sloun
    James Van Sloun says:

    Together. Dick, you are a great person for bringing people together. The way out of the damaging tribalism we find ourselves in (an your friend illustrates above) is to bring people into our circles, and join them in theirs. At the same time, we need to resist the call from those within our own circle to choose sides. I’m not advocating for utopia, simply a mixed religion, mixed race, mixed culture, American democracy.

  2. kathy valdez
    kathy valdez says:

    I highly recommend reading THE SUM OF US…What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper by Heather McGhee.


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