Point of View Columns

When Disappointment is Better Than Despair

There’s a lot of bad talk going around to the effect that the national Black community is so disappointed with the lack of achievement by the Biden Administration on behalf of Black men, women and children. There is also a lot of bad talk going around that progressives are so disappointed that all of their preferred programs have not made it into law that they may just sit out the 2024 election.

This bad talk is accompanied by the not subtle smell of sulfur coming from the Hell where dreams go when they die along with very clear odor of repetitive self-destruction.

A bit of history may be helpful……

In 2000 there was a very close presidential election featuring Al Gore and George W. Bush. Needless to say, Bush won without winning the national popular vote. Needless the say the Supreme Court ultimately handed the election to Bush even though multiple election and constitutional scholars have stated that this was a purely political decision by the Court, devoid of even a fig leaf of jurisprudence (some clear stated by Justice Antonin Scalia at a Harvard Law School forum several years later).

What needs to be said is that Ralph Nader, but running on the Green Party line, siphoned enough votes away from Al Gore to facilitate the prestidigitation of the Supreme Court and the theft of the presidency. At the time, supporters of Nader felt that Al Gore was not progressive enough and that there wasn’t much a difference between Al Gore and George Bush anyway.

The result? A botched intelligence failure that facilitated the 9/11 disasters. The Bush administration also brought this country into what turned out to be almost eternal war in Afghanistan along with a virtually endless war in Iraq. And let’s not forget about the near collapse of the American financial system – all under the Bush presidency.

It is hard to believe that a Gore presidency would not have been different even if he wasn’t progressive enough for some. Clearly the disappointment that might have accompanied a Gore administration would have been preferable to the despair that accompanied the Bush presidency.

Another bit of history….

In 2016 Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the major party candidates for the presidency. It can be argued that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified individual ever to run for president. It cannot be argued that the Clinton presidential campaign was a master class in ineptitude and erroneous strategies.

Trump was perhaps one of the least qualified presidential candidates since James Buchanan. And amazingly, his campaign was arguably even worse than the Clinton campaign.

And yet, due to the Electoral College, Trump won (thanks a lot James Madison, James Monroe, etc.). But it didn’t have to be that way.

Hillary Clinton lost the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania by a few thousand votes and even though she won the national popular vote by over 3 million, the few thousand votes in those so-called battleground states, made all the difference.

And it is pretty clear that those margins in a few states was due to many progressives, supporters of Bernie Sanders and others were sufficiently disenchanted to either sit out the election or voted for feckless third-party candidates. After all, how bad could Trump be?

As it turns out he was bad enough to remake the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary in the craven image of the Federalist Society for a generation. He was bad enough to virtually splinter international alliances and sow seeds of dissonance and hate that resulted in the horrible harvest of the January 6th insurrection.

Clearly the possible disappointment of a Clinton presidency would have been infinitely better that the despair that has accompanied the legacy of the Trump presidency.

And now there is some bad talk going around that progressives and Black Americans in particular are so disappointed with the accomplishments of the Biden presidency to date that they are ready to sit out the election even while the penumbra of a possible Trump presidency darkens the political landscape.

During the Biden presidency there have been historic achievements with respect to infrastructure, job creation, environmental initiatives as well as a revival of American legitimacy on the international stage.

It is no small matter that the John Lewis Voting Rights Act has not become law. It is also no small matter that Democrats have never had more than a two-vote majority in the Senate, and one of them is Joe Manchin.

It should go without saying that another Trump presidency would result in something right out of Satan’s playbook. Civil rights, environmental strategies and international rationality would all be out the window. And, by the way, another four years of Trump turning the federal judiciary into an archconservative tool of the right wing of the right wing for another generation would virtually demolish hopes for justice in this country deep into the 21st century.

Again, it would seem that any perceived disappointment with Joe Biden cannot begin to compare the pandemic of despair that would accompany a Trump presidency.

It would seem to be clear that in this case disappointment is better than despair.


7 thoughts on “When Disappointment is Better Than Despair

  1. David Orenstein says:

    Another great article!!!! If anyone thinks a Trump or DeSantis or any Republican presidency would be better than a second Biden term, they are literally out of their minds with ignorance, foolishness or they have a true preference for authoritarian rule rather than constitutional secular democracy. A vote (or non-vote) for any candidate other than Biden will be a vote for the Republican nominee.

  2. Antonette says:

    Thank you for writing this piece. Disappointment is better than despair in this context. It is important to compare the current state of things to how it could have been with trump still in office.

  3. John Wang says:

    Wallace, you made an excellent argument with some undisplayable examples which may just change my mind about the 2024 election.

  4. Len Greenhalgh says:

    This is a very important, well-put point of view that deserves wider circulation. I too am disappointed with some things that were not done, but if we focus on what Biden has done–and what a second Trump term would have done–we should feel blessed that Joe Biden stepped up and took on the Presidential mantle. Anyone who cares about how people other than privileged white males are going to be treated should not even consider sitting out the 2024 election. Please continue to put our country’s issues in perspective. And thankyou for doing so.

  5. dskeete67 says:

    Professor Ford you hit a home run again. The choice is ours and we have to make sure that when it’s all said and done we make the right one.
    Well stated and well argued …

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