Today is November 3, 2020. In the United States, it’s Election Day. Either the country will re-elect the incumbent President or the former Vice President. (Or maybe the Russians will manipulate some people to do their bidding.) The point is, it’s a big deal. Why? Because of the scope of radical changes #45 has made, most of which most of the US is about to pass judgment on.
But this is a bike blog, and while the personal is political, I don’t like to irritate readers who may be from across the aisle. I also pull no punches if I do write about politics. In the end, it’s a choice each registered voter has to make for themselves, while hopefully considering the greater good. But only one of the two candidates rides a bike, so it’s a no-brainer.
The candidate in question who does know how to and actually rides a bike is of course Joe Biden. about whom I wrote back in August. His opponent is more of a golfer, Big Mac eater, and the type of guy who burns calories by yelling a lot. Not that bicycling makes you a good person. There are some strong bike riders who are horrible people. Like the dudes who pass you without yelling out “on your left!” Which is, coincidentally, the side of your body your heart is and the way your politics and vote should go.
Transportation infrastructure, when discussed at all, is usually about highways and bridges, and sometimes trains. Biden loves trains. One of the things on the ballot in Austin is a tax for several more train lines, a tunnel under downtown, and electric buses. There’s also a bond for building more bike lanes and sidewalks. That seems like a no-brainer but during a pandemic, who knows. A Biden Administration would improve upon bike lanes and such as part of its climate change plan, according to a post in The Urbanist:
“Communities across the country are experiencing a growing need for alternative and cleaner transportation options, including transit, dedicated bicycle and pedestrian thoroughfares, and first- and last-mile connections,” the climate plan states. “The Biden Administration will transform the way we fund local transportation, giving state and local governments, with input from community stakeholders, more flexibility to use any new transportation funds to build safer, cleaner, and more accessible transportation ecosystem.”Source: “Biden’s Climate Plan Would Launch Green New Deal and High-Speed Rail Network”
The current administration has apparently slowed down funding for such projects. And some states could continue to prioritize car-centric projects. But here in Austin, in 2016, we passed a bond for transportation, although most of the money went for car-related improvements. Some of it did go to bike lanes and sidewalks. I helped advocate for that, and have seen the improvements. I rode on a brand sidewalk that took me and an older friend off of a busy street just the other day, actually. Local issues like these are where voting makes a much bigger difference than nationally. We’ll see if they pass, or the “pry my steering wheel from my cold, dead fingers” cars-only, bike, bus and train-hating crowd wins.
Back to the presidential election, about which I’m actually pretty cynical. I tend to agree with filmmaker Michael Moore that a repeat of 2016 is quite possible. The popular vote will go to the challenger and the electoral vote could very well go to the incumbent. It doesn’t matter until the electoral college is abolished, or electors are required to vote as the popular vote goes. The outright voter suppression here in Texas has made national news.
For example, the Governor of Texas limited drop-off ballot boxes to one per county, regardless of size. (He did extend early voting by a week, though, in a rare acknowledgement of the need to accommodate the coronavirus.) Don’t forget the years of GOP gerrymandering districts to make them all but impossible for Democrats to win. Most importantly, there is a generally conservative mindset especially amongst the religious, rural and undereducated demographics. They do vote.
Whoever wins, I don’t think it’s likely to make a huge difference in the daily lives of many Americans. Not enough to really matter in terms of the things that matter: jobs that pay a living wage, affordable health care, decent housing. Because no matter who you vote for, they’re usually going to be a capitalist. And the system is the same, in that it favors power and wealth. Of course I could be and hope that I’m wrong.
Sure, a President Biden would try to undo much of the damage that President Tinyhands Orangehead has done to civil rights, liberties and political discourse. But a lot of it can’t be undone, like lifetime federal judge and Supreme Court appointments. Executive orders can be reversed but things take time. Sure, oppressed groups like Black people, immigrants, gays and lesbians and so on would fare better, eventually. But the schisms in society are great, and the pendulum will keep swinging back and forth.
At some level, I have to agree with former President Barack Obama, who quoted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , who quoted Theodore Parker, a Unitarian (a dying tradition that A Dude was brought up in):
I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.-Thoedore Parker, abolitionist, preacher, Universalist
What’s a dude (or dudette) to do? Vote your conscience but realize that that’s not the end of participating in democracy. Also, vote for local bike infrastructure. And definitely vote with your legs by going on a bike ride if you can. On that last point, I hope we can all agree.
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