From the Minister’s Desk–January 2021

Are you glad 2020 is over? I sure am. I hope we don’t have another year like that again – ever. Let’s do better in 2021. Democracy has survived, but was threatened as never before in our lifetimes. The pandemic continues, but now we have a vaccine. Maybe we’ll be able to focus on the climate crisis now (and let’s hope it’s not too late). As I write this, I don’t know whether Congress (and the President) will come to the rescue of the millions who have or will soon run out of money, and thus have lost or are at risk of losing food, housing and medical care.

Two formalities in the presidential transition process await us. On January 6 Congress will vote on whether to accept the results of the electoral college vote, which was held on December 14 and moved Biden and Harris another step closer to taking office. The two Houses will meet in a joint session; the vice president will open the certificates from the states, in alphabetical order, and the tellers – two each from the House and the Senate – will count the votes – 270 required to win. Just a formality? Let’s take nothing for granted.

After the result is announced, objections are possible – in writing, signed by at least one Senator and one House member. For an objection to prevail it must obtain a majority vote from both the House and the Senate. If an objection is rejected, can the objectors go to court? (What a ridiculous idea!) And then, let us assume, on to January 20, Inauguration Day (and we all live happily ever after?).

2020 in the United States was a year of polarization among us, especially with respect to the presidential election and the issues and candidates involved. In 2021 can we again recognize that we are one people (“one nation, indivisible”)? Can we recognize the new year as a good time to try to connect (or reconnect) with those (family, neighbors, co-workers, co-religionists, person next to us on the bus) whose views are different from ours? I’ve been thinking of a high school classmate, I’ll call “Paul,” whom I haven’t seen since we graduated sixty years ago. We were good friends during junior and senior high.  In preparation for our high school class’s 60th reunion (subsequently postponed from September 2020 to September 2021) I tracked him down and tried to reconnect. I received a very short email response, indicating that we were about 180° apart politically. Should I forget him or try again?

Love, Dave

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