Opinion: ‘Joe Biden is my president; that’s the way it works’

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance shares his latest thoughts on the impacts of the stay-at-home orders in place to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance looks ahead to next week’s inauguration and what the president-elect can do to serve all Americans

In just eight days, on Jan. 20, the United States will have a new president. Joe Biden will be sworn in as our 46th president. As a self-proclaimed conservative, I want to make it clear, Joe Biden will be my president. That’s the way this works. I wish every inauguration featured Ronald Reagan taking the oath of office, but that’s just not going to happen.

Just as I write this, a commercial came on my television promoting the station’s coverage of Inauguration Day. It included a clip of Biden that I have heard and read many, many times.

“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States,’’ Biden said many times during the campaign.

I am putting my hope and faith in our next president to stand up to those words. I’ve only been on this earth since 1963, so my vision of history is rather short. But, I can’t think of a time in my lifetime when we needed a president to unify our country more than we need Biden to start doing so in eight short days.

On Dec. 14, we published a letter to the editor from Vancouver resident Julia Dawn Seaver. Her letter was entitled, “If you’re a conservative, ‘Be afraid. Be very afraid.’’’ Seaver had her own experiences and anecdotal evidence for her beliefs. 

As you might imagine, in this divided country that we currently live, Seaver received plenty of support by those who agreed with her perspective. But, she was also ridiculed by others who thought she was making an extreme rationalization. I was even shamed for my decision to publish her letter.

Today, I sit here less than a month later, and Seaver’s claims don’t seem very extreme to me. If you’re a conservative in the United States right now, you have every reason to be afraid, to be very afraid. That is because conservatives are under attack and it absolutely frightens me how many Americans are completely comfortable with that.

If you’re one of those who believe that folks like Seaver and myself are extremists, consider the following highlights from just the last few days of news stories.

• Big tech companies have now taken their censorship of conservatives to extreme levels. Not only have social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter banned President Donald Trump and other conservative voices, but they have temporarily silenced the voices of nearly 20 million people (mostly conservatives) who have since moved to a relatively new platform. That company, Parler, is currently suing Amazon for being completely shut down after having its app booted from the servers that made it accessible.

• The digital payments processor PayPal reported this week that it has blocked the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo because it helped raise funds for people who attended last week’s protest in Washington DC. This, in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of those who attended the protest did not commit crimes or participate in violence. (I’m sick and tired of liberals painting us conservatives with one broad stroke of the brush.)  

But Ken, you might say, “these are private businesses. They can do whatever they want.’’ For the most part, you are correct. But first, I would tell you just because they can, that doesn’t mean they should. If you subscribe to that belief that a private business has the right to deny service to anyone it wants, in these cases conservatives, then you must also be comfortable with private businesses refusing service to people based upon race, gender, or sexual preference? Of course you’re not. We are protected from that happening by law, as we should be.

My fears extend far beyond simple discrimination or censorship. The ever-widening division in our country is spiraling out of control. In many ways, the internet and social media are elements of our country’s infrastructure. Sure, those industries are not equivalent to roads and bridges, but I do believe they are extremely similar to things like telephone service, or access to healthcare or to the food supply. Like social media, those industries are all facilitated by private business. 

Do we really want a country where private businesses are allowed to monopolize some industries? Again, we have antitrust laws that are supposed to prevent that. But, if what is happening with social media continues, we will soon have sites for liberals and others for conservatives. Do you want to choose your phone service, hospital or doctor’s office, or grocery store based on your ideology? 

If big tech is allowed to continue censoring our participation in social media, in a relatively short period of time sites like Parler will create their own infrastructure and they will be available once again. Conservatives like myself will use those and liberals will continue to occupy Facebook and Twitter. And, as I have pointed out, I don’t believe our division will be limited just to social media. It will continue in other industries.

All that brings me back to our next president. I believe Joe Biden has the ability to put an end to, or greatly reduce, this excessive power that liberals currently have over conservatives. If Biden truly wants to be the president of not only the 80 million Americans who voted for him, but also the 75 million who voted against him, he will stand up and put an end to this censorship and the hatred and vitriol that his supporters have for people like myself. If he doesn’t, this civil unrest that we are experiencing is only going to get worse.

I have my concerns. For example, during the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden received almost $15.5 million in donations from the big tech industry compared to the just under $1.5 million those in the industry contributed to Donald Trump. Add to that, reports that big tech executives have already secured senior roles in the Biden Administration.

Biden also needs to get Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer under control, if that is possible. Biden needs to put an end to this impeachment nonsense. The Democrats have been trying to get Trump out of office even before he actually assumed office. They’ve already succeeded. Trump’s presidency will end in eight days. This country doesn’t need Congress to be occupied by a ridiculous and unnecessary impeachment process. It’s only adding to the division in our country and it has the potential of keeping Biden from making progress in his first 100 days.

I have hope and faith in Biden and I will continue to as long as he shows me he is being true to that promise that he made during the campaign. One of my biggest fears is that he isn’t bold enough, or strong enough to keep the radicals in his party from bullying him or controlling him. I want to believe that if he sticks to his own convictions, we will survive this current period of hate and bigotry against people like myself and our country will be repaired and we will once again be able to coexist with those who don’t share our social or fiscal ideology.