A Toast To Kamala and Joe, And A Call To Action

By Jonathan Maye

The unprecedented 2020 electoral victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden as our 46th president has catapulted our severely fractured union toward a journey of unknown scope.

Since the election my emotions, not unlike those of many other Americans, have led to tears being shed upon hearing and seeing President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris addressing America and the world.

To see Vice President-elect Kamala Harris stride gracefully onto the world stage, not only as a woman, but as a Black woman of Jamaican and Indian descent, is utterly surreal.

As a bartender by trade since 1995, I have been involved in more political discussions and discourse than I care to remember. I’m not asking the President-elect what he can do for me. I want him to know that myself, along with a legion of supporters, are ready to work for him and our country.

The American populace is about to witness the greatest civics lesson ever seen in modern times. This is not an experiment. Likewise, the sociological fabric of our nation will continue to evolve and reflect a greater diversity of opinion and voices. The floodgates have been opened.

It is with an overwhelming sense of purpose and vision that President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris step onto the world stage. Biden’s laser-like focus and measured tone was constant and precise during the heat of battle, which was the long, brutal campaign. 

Biden’s story is one of self-determination and engagement. He has demonstrated the ability to build a strong coalition, which is cross-cultural and inclusive. Nevertheless, ‘We the People’ have to remain diligent. Do not for one-minute underestimate the level of fear, evil and hatred that fuels the sinister elements that still exist in the United States. In the upcoming months we will observe a profound ignorance emanating from sore losers, hate groups and the fringe elements, no longer lurking in the shadows.

Our petulant, classless, bunkered-in coward of an imperialistic president has emboldened dysfunction and encouraged deplorable behavior. However, the promise of change, over the long term, is one that will only enrich the great character of our nation.

A close friend, Mr. Preston Cole, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary, and I had a brief congratulatory chat following the electoral victory. “We have to get up and go back to work, we’ve got lots of work to do,” Cole said. There was no chest thumping bravado, just a poignant reminder of what lies ahead.

As a 67-year-old Black American man and a product of the tumultuous 60s, I, not unlike many others, have been the first and only many times over. There have been barriers to cross and many rejections along the way. Yet there was always a determination to maintain a level of dignity under adverse, racially polarizing situations. Moreover, there were always people with sincere convictions and those with good hearts, that have helped America reach this defining moment.

Therefore, I raise a glass in toast to the millions of volunteers and the vibrant youthful generation that has helped carry our collective citizenry through this difficult period. And for all the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movements, and the many souls that gave their lives and broke their backs to build and serve this country, your ultimate sacrifice has not been forsaken nor forgotten. We will and must remain vigilant for the sake of our democracy.

Lastly, I want President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to know that “We the People” have got your back. “We the People” make up your network of support as we forge ahead as a nation against the child-like tyranny of the bully in chief.

A note to readers: My name is Jonathan Maye, a bartender serving up a shot of common sense. Cheers! As a new contributor to the La Crosse Independent, I look forward to continued dialog and encourage the community to connect and engage with me regardless of your political or social situation

Jonathan D. Maye-Cates studied journalism at UW-Milwaukee and was an editor of the original Black student newspaper, Invictus, on campus. In 1979, Jonathan was hired as the Los Angeles Times/Washington Bureau’s first paid Black intern, during the Embassy takeover in Iran and the election of President Ronald Reagan. He later worked as a reporter for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Jonathan now works as a bartender at the Charmant Hotel and serves as a commissioner on the La Crosse Human Rights Commission. He lives in La Crosse with his wife Laurie Ann Cafe.

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