Pandemic, Guns, and Representation

The Biden/Harris administration’s success in vaccinating tens of millions of Americans over the past 60 days is nothing short of miraculous and a testament to having a vision, a strategy, and effective on the ground tactics.

The President’s vision was shared in the first few days of his administration: “150 million vaccinated in one-hundred days.”

The administration’s strategy was shared by MVP and others within a day of the President’s announcement: Buy hundreds of millions of doses, incentivize states and municipalities to set up vaccination locations.

And the dynamic duo’s on the ground tactics proved to be what the country needed: Take the message to the people in all areas, especially where Black and other POC lived who were being underserved due to the systemic racism inherent in America’s healthcare networks.

President Biden and MVP Harris proved that vision, strategy, and tactics are only as strong and efficacious as the ability to execute on the ground. Think about buying coffee, gas, or clothes shopping when you are face to face with a worker who is the end result of a vision, strategy, and tactics. If that person fails you, they have undermined the entire process and logistics of billion dollar corporations.

Biden/Harris are on pace to double their commitment and do so well before their self-imposed July 4th deadline to “reopen the country.”The ability to get out of the gate so quickly with such a life-saving major operation, on top of the most significant and progressive relief bill in generations, proved that 81 million voters got it right when they elected this team.

The team is working at a furious pace to get as much of the nation vaccinated as possible because there is a significant portion of the country – mostly conservative white men according to recent polling, who will not get vaccinated but who will certainly go to work, shop, dine in restaurants, fix your food, service your car, and work beside you and I.

American is opening up, whether it should or shouldn’t is no longer a matter of debate because with a significant percentage of the population vaccinated, people are out and about, restaurants are allowing inside dining, and beaches and resort areas are packed for Spring Break. The damn has broken and the fingers of the cautious aren’t enough to stop the flow of mass killings.

America-style mass killings slowed over the past year as cities shut down and people isolated themselves in homes all over the country. But with cities opening up, relief being received, and many areas warming up as Spring begins, the mass-shooting hibernation appear to be over.

This week a 21 year old man killed 10 people in a King Sooper supermarket in Boulder, Co. A few days earlier a man killed 8 people in Atlanta. There were shootings in Stockton, Ca., Gresham, Oregon, Dallas and Houston, Tx, and Philadelphia, Pa.

That makes seven mass events in 7 days.

As is always the case in America when there are mass shootings, citizens want to know what the race of the shooter is so that battle lines can be drawn. Most mass shooters are white men and the recent ones are no different. The targets varied with the most egregious being the six Asian women murdered in Atlanta by a white Christian man. The ten people murdered in Boulder were killed by a white Islamic man.

The common denominator for mass killings isn’t so much race or religion – though those two are most likely white men who are Christians – no, the most reliable determinant of mass shooting is the simple fact it will be a man.

Everything else is secondary or tertiary. The list could of most likely to be a mass shooter looks like:




American men are the most armed men in the world, owning close to a billion weapons, with the vast majority of those men being white, Christian, men. As a group they are reliably violent towards the rest of us, and reliably defended by their elected officials in office who refuse to enact real gun reform and gun laws. We, the rest of the nation, are at their mercy and we all just pray or wish or chant that our deaths by men who are white Christians will never come.

Pandemics and guns are but two of the crisis President Biden and MVP Harris are grappling with right now. The third is the bickering within the party about representation among the cabinet.

The administration is the most diverse ever and the nation and government are better for it. President Biden kept his campaign promise and MVP Harris worked to ensure the right choices were made for cabinet and other positions.

But anyone who has ever been in charge of hiring knows that one cannot please all the people all the time. And when there is only one party even interested in diversity, the job market for top level jobs in what is shaping up to be a historical administration are hard to come by.

Everyone wants in and rightly so. Everyone has been denied opportunity for too long and when there are jobs open, everyone has a compelling case for why “they” should be hired.

But not everyone can be hired and thus most people will be disappointed.

The big tent can hold many people but it doesn’t need a lot of attendants to manage the tent.

The latest kerfuffle to rise to the top of grievances that President Biden and MVP Harris will have to resolve is the complaint by Senator Tammy Duckworth.

Senator Duckworth expressed disappointment and anger at a response a White House spokeswoman gave her when she asked about appointing more Asian Americans to cabinet level positions.

The spokesperson responded, correctly but perhaps indelicately, “We are very proud of South Asian Vice President Harris.”

The answer opened a bag of resentment which led to Senator Duckworth saying she would hold up any upcoming votes by voting “No” unless the candidate is AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander), or other minorities.

Look, there is a lot to unpack with the timing of the senator’s question, the poor answer by the spokesperson, and the threat to hold up votes unless the candidate is AAPI, but suffice to say President Biden and MVP Harris deftly managed this situation and kept Senator Duckworth in line.

President Biden and MVP Harris handled the batter quickly and quietly as is their style, and now they can continue to execute their plan on fixing America.

Asian Americans are a diverse group, not monolithic, with about thirty different countries of origin covering billions of people. Simplistic identities may fit America’s need to bottle up everyone into neat and tidy subsections of society but those identities are made up and often complicate things for those who have to carry them.

MVP Harris is South Asian and dark, as are many of the South Asians (but not all) from India, Pakistan, Bangledesh, and Sri Lanka. East Asians are dominated by China, Japan, Koreas, but there are dozens of other countries and nations.

Now think of the white woman spokesperson offering of MVP Harris as “South Asian” when Senator Duckworth was most likely speaking up for “East Asians’ and you can begin to understand why Senator Duckworth reacted the way she did.

But there’s more.

Neera Tandon is also South Asian and Senator Duckworth did not speak up for her, before Tandon withdrew her nomination after being blasted for previous online tweets when she was defending herself.

As I said, there is a lot to unpack and plenty of misdirected comments and threats.

Firstly, neither the spokesperson nor Senator Duckworth should be using MVP as their excuse for anything having to do with the question of who is/is not in the cabinet.

Further, the spokeswomen needs to educate herself on the diversity within the Asian community so that she does not conflate south and east Asians and their representation.

Senator Duckworth has to understand dismissing representation and MVP Harris will never be okay with the most important voting block of democrats: Black voters, and mostly Black women. They will never accept attacks – direct or indirect – on MVP Harris. Fighting your battles without bringing Black women into it is always prudent.

There will be more battles ahead as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic, and there will be intra-party fighting as the party searches for a way to get the most done, with the best people, while maintaining the egos of so many diverse voices.

It would be nice to “only” have to navigate political and health-related issues. But America isn’t smart enough to be so lucky.

There are a billion other problems – guns owned by citizens – that are also showing their deadliness and we all have to learn to survive the next man who decides to carry out a mass shooting.

With summer approaching, vaccinations increasing, and regular government issues needing attention, President Biden and MVP Harris will have their hands full trying to navigate the various issues that were never addressed with the prior group.

Let’s all hope elected democrats work with them and not light fires that are better handled privately instead of online or with the media who are desperate to drive TMZ-like traffic after losing their best friend Donald Trump.

© 2021 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved.

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