No joke, I did a tarot pull on the morning of the 20th and out came The Fool. Normally I focus on asking for a card that indicates what I should keep in mind that day, but what I was thinking about was the inauguration. Would it be marred by violence across the country, or had the precautions been enough and peace would rule the day? What would this 46th presidency mean for our country? Would anything truly change, or would President Biden try to guide us back to the status quo that existed before Trump, a status quo that served only the wealthy, while the middle class shrunk year after year and the working poor received the barest table scraps?
While the old status quo was far better than the rampant xenophobia, racism, bigotry, classism, sexism, and white supremacy of the Trump administration, it was not good. We finally had same-sex marriage equality, but courts were favoring arguments of “religious liberty” that allowed bigoted Christians to hide behind bibles while they acted out of blatant discrimination. It was a status quo where black people, and especially black men, were killed by law enforcement and other “scared” white men with alarming frequency. Trans people were murdered with alarming frequency in greater numbers every year. Young people were drowning in debt for the barest chance at a better future. Poverty was still far higher than it had been in 2000, and health care was financially inaccessible to millions despite reforms. Those things and more are not new. Those things became much, much worse in the last four years, but they were not new.
President Biden’s history as a centrist implies that there is a very real possibility he will work towards restoring the old status quo with all those old inequalities, but I want to hope for better. I want to hope that the events of the past four years have shown him how moderate policies allowed this to happen, allowed white supremacy to fester and grow until it threatened to overtake our country in the form of fascism. He is an intelligent man, with an intelligent wife for his partner, and a knack for surrounding himself with intelligent people who can advise him on matters he does not personally understand intimately, because no one can understand everything intimately. The fact that he picked a cabinet packed that is the most diverse group of people ever to hold those positions in the history of the United States, all of whom are undeniable experts in their fields, is proof that he understands he is not an island or a bastion of Ultimate Knowledge.
President Joe Biden is clearly thoughtful, regardless of his stumbled words from time to time when speaking publicly. I hope he has put a lot of thought into the course of history that led to Trump and which underlies the white supremacist and Nazi movements in the United States. I hope he realizes that maintaining the status quo of inequalities was a huge contributor to how things fell out in the last five years. The year 2016, when Trump was campaigning, was as much a part of this as anything he did while in office. It was in 2016 when Trump mocked a disabled reporter at a rally to the adulation of his adherents, and 2016 when he was exposed for saying he could “grab her by the pussy”, and he was not held accountable for either those two things, or any of other deplorable things he did and said before he had the legal shelter of the office of the President of the United States and became all but untouchable.
I wish Trump was an anomaly, but he is not. Had it not been him, it would have been someone else, because his presence in the White House was facilitated by a significant portion of the American populace who believes in inequity and white supremacy.
This IS who we are, but it is NOT who we must be. We can choose to do better.
Electing President Biden was a fantastic step in the right direction. Even if he continues to choose the centrist path, that is a place from which we can make positive changes in the future, but I hope for better. Thanks to Trump, the status quo is all but destroyed, which means we must rebuild. If we are rebuilding anyway, it is easier to clean up the foundation now, to change where the walls are, add more doors and windows, make sure everyone has access to the things they need, and take out those glass ceilings while we are at it.
I hope that President Biden will choose a path which prioritizes normal citizens over the wealthy elite, because the wealthy elite do not need any help. They already have everything they need and then some. I hope that he chooses a path which prioritizes intersectional equality across all levels of society. I hope he chooses a path that prioritizes the health of our planet and the environment. I hope that he chooses a path which is not so heavy on imperialistic policies around the world. I hope that he chooses a path which frees children from cages, and he does everything he can to reunite them with their families. I hope he chooses a path that respects and honors the indigenous people of these lands. I hope he chooses a path that eventually puts an end to police brutality and fosters genuinely helpful social services in our communities. I hope he chooses a path which supports small businesses, and holds all businesses accountable for how they treat their employees.
I hope for a better that is genuinely better for most people, instead of building mountains on their backs and then insultingly asking them why they are buried under all that garbage.
Signs are Good
It is too early to know for certain, but President Biden started off at a dead run to undo as much as he could on day 1. It is a shame that he could not take the day to simply celebrate his election along with his supporters, but that was not the country he inherited. The country he inherited is in a terrible state, and he made quick and decisive actions the hallmark of his first day.
The inaugural celebration was wonderful, and the people of this country desperately needed that to start the healing process. They needed the joy and the dignity and the respect. I am glad for all of that, and I am glad that President Biden also went straight to work while the rest of us were able to take a deep breath. I am glad that on his very first day of the presidency, he chose to sign 17 executive orders. At least some of the damages done by Trump have already been undone.
I am only mentioning a few things here, because he did a lot! He recognized the need for immediate action, and he took it. He provided discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, froze student loan payments, cancelled the Keystone XL Pipeline contract, legalized transgender people in the military, rejoined the Paris climate agreement, removed racist travel bans, halted construction of the Mexico border wall, started the process of rejoining the World Health Organization, put forward a nationwide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and much more.
The changes we need cannot be made overnight, not by any stretch of the imagination, so I was floored by just how much he did that first day, half of which was taken up by inauguration proceedings! It is enough to give me hope that he will do what is necessary, not just to reverse the damage which Trump did, but to move things in a direction that will be more inclusive and equal for all people, Congress willing.
But we must also continue to do everything we can to hold politicians accountable, support positive public change, work to be anti-racist and anti-bigotry in our everyday lives, and do the hard work of creating social change at all levels of society. These changes are as much on us as they are on the President.
The Fool Card
I started out this article by stating that I pulled The Fool. Honestly, I think that might have been one of the best possible cards to signify the start of this administration, and it gives me even more hope.
The Fool is not foolish by nature, especially in the context of my card pull on the morning of the 20th of January, 2021. The Fool is foolish because the path ahead is completely unknown territory, full of possibilities. It is impossible to be streetwise and wary if you are in an environment with which you are completely unfamiliar. That takes experience, and the newness of the path suggests that what will he happening in the next four years is not an attempt to return to the old status quo, because that would be familiar territory for President Biden, who was historically a centrist. That would be the domain of The Emperor, or maybe the Hierophant, who both usually speak to creating order and maintaining tradition. I would have loved to see Justice, but that is not really a healthy focus for a seat like the President of the United States, which should be focused on policy, not retribution. And, you cannot have Judgement without Justice first. Judgement would have implied ascension to a new way of life freed from the constraints of the old, which is a fantastic goal, but we are nowhere near there. At this time, we still carry the troubles of white supremacy with us into this new administration. Those are not going away anytime soon.
The Fool is a card of new beginnings, something entirely new and unknown. It is a beautiful card of promise and hope and possibilities. The Fool usually carries a bundle, the remnants of his prior life, and so President Biden is inheriting the problems of the Trump administration, and also carrying his own experience and knowledge and insight. His load is surprisingly light, for with a Congress no longer strangled by the GOP, there is a good chance that his policies will receive the support they need to see fruition.
There is often a dog bouncing at his heels, for no one should undergo such a journey alone, and the President of the United States is anything but alone as he works to lead the country. Those people are there to support him and see him be successful in his efforts.
Of course, there is a cliff ahead, and dangerous looking environment in the distance. It will not be an easy journey. It will be fraught with difficulties and obstacles. It will be full of amazing highs and disastrous lows. Yet, it will be worth it!
And it will be something entirely new!
Words are not adequate to express how I feel about the possibility of genuine change, no matter how hard it is to bring to fruition, no matter how long it takes, because the status quo was a failure for not just a few, but millions of people, and that number grew by the day.
No Justice. No Peace.
I believe those words to the bottom of my heart, whether you are talking about Black Lives matter, the struggles of indigenous people, poor people, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, people of any religion or ethnicity, and anyone else who is marginalized or experiences discrimination. Intersectional equality means that as long as any one of us is oppressed, we all are obligated to do our part to fix it. We are obligated to create the justice that is currently lacking, because those who are treated unjustly are never truly at peace. They cannot be.
I finally have hope that down the road we will find justice, and then maybe, just maybe, we will have true peace. I hope I live to see that day, but at the very least I want to see us moving that direction. I hope that movement towards justice and peace started yesterday, with The Fool, the beautiful, beautiful Fool, for whom anything is possible and the future is unwritten.