Small things may be just that, but when they march forward at a steady pace, they get swept up in a powerful momentum fueled by strength in numbers. Collectively, a growing stream of small things can intensify into a juggernaut that wields great influence while remaining mostly out of the spotlight. The result may be welcome relief and delight or incessant grief and heartache, depending on your perspective.
After four years of major atrocities and ignominies, it’s fitting that Trump’s single term, historic for its double impeachment, culminated in a final deadly showstopper. The Trump-inspired insurrectionist attack on the Capitol two weeks before Joe Biden’s inauguration will no doubt jump off the pages of our grandchildren’s history textbooks for its breathtaking perversity.
Thankfully, America has moved on. To borrow language from President Biden, we have moved past the malarkey and we’re building back better. This means the big things these days include items such as the passage of the American Rescue Plan that provides $1.9 trillion in desperately needed pandemic relief. The big things no longer involve racist walls, xenophobic immigration bans, environmental desecration, or other embarrassments that smack of a nation of warped values.
While Trump was President, a small time might pass between serious affronts to decency, dignity, or democracy. However, the small things were always present, swimming like slimy, dutiful fish garnering little attention thanks to the shockwaves of the big things and the shiny objects Trump tossed around like paper towel rolls after a devastating hurricane.
For four years, Trump’s swamp produced a fetid stream of comparatively small things—another rollback of a sensible environmental or banking regulation; a looser reinterpretation of language aimed at stopping ugly forms of discrimination; a further erosion of healthcare and protections for America’s most vulnerable populations. It was a stream mired with junk that translated into an unswerving current of pain and sorrow for the country.
Today, the small things continue to flow under the Biden administration, but they sail boldly in the opposite direction. Under Biden’s leadership, the small things are about making people feel valued and offering the opportunity to live safely and thrive. It’s the establishment of the White House Gender Policy Council earlier this month; it’s Thursday’s triumphant return of references to the world’s climate emergency on the EPA’s website; and it’s Friday’s announced reinstatement of government accountability measures that Trump cheerfully ripped up as his failed term petered out.
Following a joke of a presidential transition, the Biden administration has been tackling America’s morass of problems methodically and expertly. The big things, such as the American Rescue Plan, will keep on coming. In the meantime, we can spend each day taking comfort in knowing that the small things are getting pumped out of the Democrats’ Progress Factory with uncanny skill and determination, not to mention that invaluable human trait known as empathy. Now is the time to climb as high as we possibly can.