Columnist John Sheirer: Moving beyond the cult

Published: 1/10/2021 1:20:51 PM Modified: 1/10/2021 1:20:32 PM Last week, my wife Betsy and I watched the documentary “Heaven’s Ga...



Published: 1/10/2021 1:20:51 PM

Modified: 1/10/2021 1:20:32 PM

Last week, my wife Betsy and I watched the documentary “Heaven’s Gate” about a cult whose members committed suicide in 1997 based on the fantasy that they were going to be taken to a new level of existence in a spaceship. Then we watched a cult leader call on his followers to commit domestic terrorism and invade the United States Capitol based on the fantasy that he won the election.

Obviously, we need a president who isn’t a cult leader. That’s a pretty low bar, but Joe Biden will provide much more, including improved tone, focus, ethics, knowledge and judgment. Biden’s Twitter feed is optimistic and informative, not mean, dishonest, or egotistical. He doesn’t use it to celebrate his followers after they attack America.

Biden wears a mask and social distances more in one day than the cult leader has during the entire pandemic. Biden knows that masks decrease virus transmission. As an empathic leader, Biden has laughed and smiled more since the election than his predecessor did since he took office. For a heartbroken nation approaching half a million COVID deaths, we need good spirits and encouragement far more than fact-free rants about voter fraud or criminal calls to pressure election officials to “find” votes.

Biden is organizing a nationwide memorial moment on the eve of his inauguration to honor those lost to COVID. That event alone is a notable contrast to the cult leader whose lack of empathy borders on inhumane while he continues to spread the heartless lie that COVID deaths have been exaggerated.

Biden’s policy proposals are even more important than his character. A search of his plans reveals an ambitious, coherent contrast with the scattershot, regressive cult leader’s policies.

The most pressing policy issue is the COVID vaccine. The cult administration botched the distribution rollout. Biden plans to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase supplies needed for getting Americans vaccinated. He supports the $2,000 stimulus payment that Democrats have always favored, Republicans have always blocked, and the cult leader only came to support as a bribe to recruit more followers.

Biden also has a robust COVID-19 Response Team and a national strategy to fight the pandemic while the cult leader’s task force hasn’t met formally since October, despite the surge in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Biden will sign an executive order to require masks “everywhere I can” on his first day in office. He also plans to renew cooperation with the World Health Organization, which the cult leader nonsensically abandoned.

Other early Biden priorities include reversing the cultish, discriminatory bans on travel from Muslim-majority nations, ending inhumane border policies, and submitting a bill to Congress to create a path to citizenship for “Dreamers.” He also plans to issue an executive order that takes effect at the moment of his inauguration to stop the departing cult leader’s “midnight orders.”

Biden supports numerous initiatives to protect the rights of Americans, such as reinstating a key anti-discrimination portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and secure legal voting access. The Democratically controlled House already passed these measures in 2019, but the Republican Senate blocked them.

For extremely important judicial nominations, Biden is considering public defenders and civil rights advocates rather than prosecutors and corporate lawyers who dominate the federal bench. Biden also supports the Equality Act (again, passed by the House, stonewalled in the Senate) to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. And his longer-term proposals for tax fairness and expanding health care will also benefit the vast majority of Americans.

Biden will also immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, reverse the cult leader’s erosion of environmental protections, limit oil and gas pollution, reestablish fuel economy standards, invest in clean energy, and protect federal lands.

The cult leader’s unhinged attacks have not prevailed. Biden won the election convincingly, and the recent Georgia senate elections mean that Republicans will have a much harder time blocking Biden’s positive changes to a nation desperately in need of help.

For my sane conservative friends who wish the election had been different so that they could see more anti-choice, corporate-friendly judges and tax cuts for the wealthy, please keep an open mind. Our country is better off without the cult leader in power.

Betsy and I asked each other the same question about the MAGA riot that we did about the spaceship cult: Why can’t these people see how crazy they’re being? I can only tell these cultists that they’re hurting more than just themselves. A cult that attacks American democracy does more damage than one that only hurts its own members.

One MAGA cultist recently told me that America will be boring under Biden. Great! Good government should be boring. Protecting people from a virus, discrimination, climate change, and corporate abuses should help us sleep more soundly, not keep us awake dreading what the cult leader will do next.

For my friends who worry that Biden won’t spur the revolution that they hoped would follow four years of cultish regression, don’t expect an immediate, magical turnaround on Jan. 20. Biden isn’t a cultish savior. He’s a dedicated public servant who knows that empathy, a competent administration, and common-sense policies can help millions of people over the long term. That’s revolutionary.

John Sheirer is an author and teacher who lives in Florence. His book, “Positively Toward the Negative,” contains his Gazette columns from 2016-2020. Find him at JohnSheirer.com.



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Newsrust: Columnist John Sheirer: Moving beyond the cult
Columnist John Sheirer: Moving beyond the cult
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