Science

This Thanksgiving, I’m Grateful for a President Who Believes in Science

I’ve been pretty critical of the Biden administration—as I promised I would be on Inauguration Day. I believe that my job is to tell the truth, even to my own “team.” Maybe especially to my own team. But even if I didn’t believe that, I’ve largely resigned myself to dying a bitter old man who was never once satisfied by the pace of progress. Dub me unforgiven.

But this week is Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I realize that’s troubling because the American mythmaking behind the holiday is pretty horrible. I have no time for feel-good origin stories about genocidal colonizers. Instead of all that trash, I try to focus on what the holiday means to me: a day to be appreciative. No presents, no God, just eat and be happy with what you have, without any worries about what you’re going to get (in this life or the next).

Therefore, in the spirit of gratitude, I offer these words of thanks to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. It’s worth it to take time to appreciate what we have.

The vaccines. The fact that Covid-19 vaccines are here, safe, and freely available is due to the work of lots of people, including, yes, people in the previous administration. Doctors, scientists, truck drivers, logistical aides, clinic operators, nurses—there are literally thousands and thousands of unsung heroes who have brought us to this point. For the most part, Biden was just the guy who was there while all this good work took place.

But, he was the guy who was there. And he didn’t irrevocably screw it up. He didn’t get in the way. He didn’t turn the whole process into some kind of political Rorschach test. He didn’t tell people to inject themselves with bleach or horse dewormer.

Other people made it political. Other people turned down medicine to “own the libs.” Other people have elevated Internet conspiracy and contrarianism over science and safety.

But you know what? Those other people are not invited to my house on Thanksgiving. Biden is. Because he’s vaccinated. And he’s not an idiot. That’s because he didn’t make being a drooling fool a centerpiece of his political strategy. Thank you, Joe Biden.

Lucky number 13. Vice President Kamala Harris has cast 13 tie-breaking votes in the US Senate, the most in a single year by any vice president in US history. Can you imagine if Mike Pence were in a position to cast those votes? Things would be worse.

But here’s something to really bend your noodle: The greatest number of tie-breaking votes cast by any vice president was 31, and those were cast by noted slaver and intellectual father of the Confederacy John C. Calhoun. Just think about how much progress Calhoun was responsible for stopping simply by means of this one constitutional power given to the VP.

Thank you, Kamala Harris, for not being a bastard slaver and for trying to move the country forward despite unrelenting bigotry and misogyny from the Beltway press corps. We see you.