The Summer of (Missteps and) Discontent

AP Photo/Evan Vucci


I’m sure, at some point in your childhood, you saw the old Warner Brothers’ cartoon of the Roadrunner and the Coyote.

Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius. For a moment, we believed him – that he was, indeed, a super genius. Between all of the gadgets he could create and the items he could buy, perhaps he was that smart and, further, maybe we should have some empathy for his missteps in catching his meal – the seemingly simple Roadrunner.

Then, after a while – whether it was halfway through an episode or after watching a few of them – it became clear: there is a reason why Wile E. Coyote will always stay hungry. Perhaps that reason was his arrogance towards his situation or his over-planning of the strategy. Maybe it was lack of the necessary work to capture the Roadrunner or simply it was the fact that the money towards buying gadgets from Acme could have been better served towards ordering some groceries from Amazon or some Chik-Fil-A through GrubHub.

After a while, it was just too insufferable to root for the Super Genius, regardless of how sympathetic of a character he could be out there alone with his nemesis in the desert.

Based on recent polls between former Vice President Joe Biden and the incumbent ticket in the White House, more Americans are starting to look at the Biden/Harris ticket (and many Democrats overall) more like Wile E. Coyote – they look like they should have all sorts of natural advantages to run, win, and lead, but the more things play out, the more that it gets hard for swing voters to empathize with, much less trust the Democrats.

In this re-run of the summer of 1968, missteps in the 2020 “Summer of Discontent” have caused the Democrats to look disjointed, while more Americans in need of change are becoming dangerously more disillusioned.

Speaker Pelosi’s visit to the hair salon – a no-no in California at the time – is the latest episode in the ongoing saga of hollow displays of Democrats’ leadership during a historic time of tensions, grievances, and deaths. Yet, with Pelosi alone, the issue is more than just the visit to the salon (complete with videotaped footage). The lack of apology by Pelosi – echoing a resentment reflecting the late Marion Berry instead of remorse – stands on common ground with the scores of other instances of arrogance, disconnect, double standards, and disjointed leadership over the past 8 months.

Over 100 days of protests in Portland under the watch of Mayor Ted Wheeler have made the 1968 campaign slogan of “law and order” a relevant notion currently. The CHAZ/CHOP in Seattle showed that the insanity of allowing protesters to attempt to create a “new land” within the United States of America was not just a one-off idea in Washington. In “Portlandia…but with Perogies”, protesters routinely demonstrate in front of the home of the mayor in “America’s Most Livable City”, a man who has regularly criticized President Trump as a dictator yet watched in a very Bashir al-Assad-ish fashion from his home as his fellow Pittsburghers were tear-gassed by the police. Governors from the Keystone State to the Wolverine State have engaged in very public rounds of hypocrisy, from confidential backroom deals to allow 20,000 participants at a car show in Pennsylvania to political favors to bend COVID-driven rules by the Governor Whitmer’s husband during a proposed Memorial Day getaway.

As the examples continue to accumulate, the question continues to be asked – both in the quiet conversations in American homes at night as well as in more corners of the non-mainstream media: why are we seeing more of the same from so many Democrats, particularly at a time when we need to see something much different than the campaign tactics we saw fail in 2016 or the leadership styles we have seen fall flat in cities over the years?

For all of the warts and woes that President Trump and Republicans stockpile (both real and imagined) regularly, there is nothing that the right has done to prompt the continued stream of unforced errors that the Democrats have committed throughout this historic year of angst. The Pelosi-led, kente cloth kneeling earlier in the spring could not yield the goodwill necessary to partner with Senator Tim Scott (often a critic of Trump on matters of race and messaging) on significant criminal justice reform work, just as they also did not work with Senator Rand Paul on the no-knock legislation also authored by a Republican focused on equality and reform. The Biden gaffe of “…you ain’t Black…” on a popular Black radio morning show was followed up with a viewpoint that shows how much the Democrats take the Black voting bloc for granted as not being “…incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes…” Democrats who have often accused the Trump Administration of hiding everything from tax returns to correspondences with Vladimir Putin have themselves blocked efforts to prompt transparency during the worst of the pandemic.

Political hypocrisy is nothing new nor is it a dynamic that will prompt voters to move in another direction. The ongoing continuation of it, coupled with the resonance of its tones, will make a difference in an election. Democrats, despite being the self-proclaimed super geniuses of the political landscape (especially within the most populated regions of the nation), fail to see that the more they invest in their efforts without making the substantive changes to tactics, intentions, and viewpoints towards their fellow Americans, the more things will remain the same for them – both at a presidential election night level but also with on-the-ground developments in our communities. One cannot call a set of actions evil, stupid, or un-American, only to make the same types of errors – especially as one advances one’s self as the solution, the savior, or the “super genius” that is needed for the times. After a while, folks eventually realize that those who self-sabotage and remain self-absorbed will eventually find a way to blow up even the best-laid plans in the most desperate of situations. After a while, it gets tough taking seriously someone who continues the same missteps with the same tone and the same outlook – only to be shocked that they get the same empty results every single episode.