It's a matter of respect. That's what our current and hopefully soon-to-be-outgoing president and his blinded followers don't seem to understand both about who we are as a country and about Joe Biden.
This election is and must be about respect. Respect for America. Respect for ourselves. Respect for each other. Regardless of party, or color, or sex, or belief, or age or country of birth or state of health.
Biden and most Democrats seem to get it. Biden's VP pick is a woman. And a Black. And an Asian-American. Biden's transition team now is even vetting a handful of Republicans for potential Cabinet positions, including former presidential candidate John Kasich of Ohio — despite the possibility that it won't win Biden any new support from the right and might risk enraging some on the left. His health care plan is a smart blend of the Affordable Care Act, commercial insurance and a single-payer option. His climate plan embraces alternative energy and infrastructure jobs to balance diminishingly used fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump huffed out of an "60 Minutes" interview — a staple of campaigns — and refused to complete a segment with Vice President Mike Pence. He attacked Lesley Stahl, who was asking questions about the coronavirus. And why wouldn't she? A better question is why wouldn't our president have the decency and wherewithal to answer.
Trump's tantrum proves less about his disrespect for the media and more about his profound lack of seriousness in the middle of a domestic crisis that has killed more than 222,000 Americans while cases spike higher daily. His fit disrespects every one of us, every one of the nearly 8.4 million Americans sickened and every one of those who died.
The disrespect extends beyond Trump to his base, but other voters are catching on. Down south, across Tennessee's border in once solidly red Georgia, polls say Trump and Biden are tied and so are Senate opponents Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger John Ossoff.
Several days ago, Perdue — first cousin of Trump Secretary of Agriculture and former Georgia governor, Sonny Perdue — created his own spectacle of disrespect during Trump's Macon campaign rally. There, Sen. Perdue mocked fellow Sen. and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris' name.
"Ka-MA-la, KA-ma-la, Kamala-mala-mala. I don't know, whatever," Perdue said of the woman he served with in the U.S. Senate for the past three years.
It was a sign of his automatic dismissal. It was racist. It was and is plain and simple disrespect of anything other. Or, as one Begali America mother of a son named Zakir told the Huffington Post later: "If white people can say 'Phoebe' or 'Arnold Schwarzenegger,' they could definitely say a Nadia, Roberto or a Zakir. It's not brain surgery, it's laziness."
Perdue's spokesperson John Burke tweeted that the senator "simply mispronounced" Harris' name and "didn't mean anything by it."
We're sure, too, that Trump and his aides didn't mean anything by playing political football with COVID-19 resources — saying they should go only to red states.
And Mitch McConnell doesn't mean any disrespect when he and Trump make their umpteenth reversal on whether COVID stimulus aid for millions of unemployed Americans is too much or not enough or even on the table.
And Trump's continued hiding of his taxes — the ones he didn't pay — doesn't mean he's insulting to the rest of us or unpatriotic to America. The stable genius told us in a 2016 debate: "That makes me smart."
But more and more Americans — including a growing number of Republicans, are understanding that it is about respect.
CNN's John Avlon last week termed it "a surprising sign of bipartisanship ... and perhaps unprecedented in American history" that at least 450 prominent Republican leaders — most decades-long GOP leaders — are now supporting the Biden/Harris ticket.
He mentioned a handful who spoke at the Democratic Convention, two former chairmen of the Republican Party, five former senators and 24 former Republican members of Congress. There also are Republican governors, CIA directors, Cabinet secretaries, a UN ambassador, military leaders, Cindy McCain, 129 national security officials from Republican administrations, hundreds of George W. Bush administration alumni and 46 members of Mitt Romney's campaign.
That's in addition to members of the Lincoln project — longtime GOP operatives who've made some of the most viral anti-Trump ads and pro-Biden ads this cycle. Avlon said it's also not counting senior administration officials who have directly or indirectly warned Americans about the dangers of Trump — people like John Bolton, Rex Tillerson, Jim Mattis and John Kelly.
This isn't normal, but as Avlon noted, "these are not normal times." He added that many of those Republicans, in explaining why they endorsed the Democratic candidate, talked about Biden's decency, experience and commitment to finding common ground. But Avlon added what Sean O'Keefe, a former Navy secretary and NASA administrator told him, offering up a quote often attributed to Edmund Burke, an Irish statesman and philosopher of the 1700s:
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
So vote for respect — respect for America and all Americans.