A hopeful beginning

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In a somewhat optimistic posture, Rochester Beacon readers hope President Joe Biden will tackle the nation’s daunting challenges by bringing Americans together.

In a poll of Beacon readers, nearly half of respondents said they were somewhat confident that Biden would be a unifying leader, and more than 33 percent were very confident. Eleven percent weren’t so sure, and 7 percent were not confident at all. The Beacon survey was conducted shortly after Biden was inaugurated as the 46th  president of the United States.

“We’ve fallen so far in the past four years that I can’t help but be very optimistic over Joe Biden’s ascension to leadership,” says Chip Dawson.

Bill Wynne worries his optimism will be offset by the partisan divide “especially manifested by the ongoing propagation of the election big lie of rampant fraud.”

“I have little confidence that the Democratic Party and its members in Congress will have the discipline to work together well in the Country’s interest, and less confidence that the Republican Party members will be able to resist self-serving obstructionism,” says Michael Leach. “But I hope, nonetheless.”

Biden channeled that hope in his Jan. 20 inaugural address—reminding the nation that democracy had prevailed. He called for unity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, joblessness and violence.

“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward,” the president said.

Sixty-three percent of Beacon readers were somewhat confident and 22 percent were very confident that Biden would end the pandemic and revive the economy in the face of a divided nation. Roughly 7 percent did not have any confidence in his ability to restore America’s economic health.

“We have a $27 trillion federal debt, we run chronic budget deficits that Washington doesn’t seems to care about and the Democrat agenda is to create more entitlements such as student loan debt forgiveness,” says Geoff Rosenberger, who notes that the pharmaceutical industry deserves credit for the effort to end the pandemic, not elected officials.

Frank Orienter, however, sees reason for optimism about Biden’s chances at rebuilding the nation. He pointed to the president providing financial aid to states and citizens. More than 31 percent of respondents were very optimistic about the outlook for the United States; 49 percent were somewhat optimistic.

Nearly 58 percent of Beacon readers who responded to the survey identified as Democrats; 13 percent as Republicans and 29 percent were unaffiliated or enrolled in other parties. A plurality of Republican respondents—though less than half—expressed confidence in Biden as a unifying leader and optimism about the country over the next four years.

On issues other than the pandemic and the economy, more than half of those who participated in the poll would like to see climate change and the environmental concerns as priorities of the new administration, followed closely by efforts toward ending racism and racial inequality. Among other problems cited by more than one-third of respondents were health care and political polarization.

“Our country is at the cusp of true multiculturalism and our eyes were opened to the need of addressing our disenfranchised,” says Larry Broser. “We have a unique opportunity to leverage continued gains in technology and promised government investment in infrastructure and environmentally sustainable industries to drive our economic recovery.”

Nearly 200 Beacon readers took part in the poll. Respondents were asked to comment on the reasons for their optimism or pessimism about the next four years. The following are the complete signed written responses of participants in the survey, conducted Jan. 20-21. Many additional unsigned responses were submitted. As a matter of policy, the Beacon does not post unsigned comments.

Share your thoughts on why you are optimistic or pessimistic about the outlook for the country over the next four years.

We now have a President w/control of House and Senate who is supported by a majority of the American voters, is known as a compromiser (in the positive sense of the word) and knows that government can be used for good. Our country is at the cusp of true multiculturalism and our eyes were opened to the need of addressing our disenfranchised. We have a unique opportunity to leverage continued gains in technology and promised government investment in infrastructure and environmentally sustainable industries to drive our economic recovery.

—Larry Broser 

If politics is the art of the possible, then we must recognize that given the slim control of the Congress, meaningful progress and reform will result only from forming a national consensus of lawmakers and citizens, especially voters, which will require active presidential leadership effort with Congress and consistent communication, transparency and truth.

—Nathan J. Robfogel

Well, a deep subject. Hardly looked past getting rid of the greedy and corrupt Trump, one of the worst political figures in our history. Since even before he took the oath of office was disappointed that Biden apparently insisted on ceremony even after Trump’s encouragement of his mob to insurrection 2 weeks ago. So wonder just how satisfying his performance will be after this. But I didn’t vote for someone as much as against the incompetence, greed, and corruption of his robber baron predecessor, Trump. Sleazy Celebrity’s crimes and faults can’t be repeated enough. If there was one thing that Trump was good for it was being the perfect example of the least admirable qualities in a human being not to mention an assigned leader. He lost by 3 million votes in 2016 so it’s hard to put it any other way. And yes, since it is the one and possibly only truth to come out during his lying term in office it bears repeating numerous times: Trump LOST the 2020 election and again etc.

—Robert Benvenuti 

Biden’s experience leaves me optimistic but this could be offset by the huge partisan divide especially manifested by the ongoing propagation of the election big lie of rampant fraud.

—Bill Wynne 

We’ve fallen so far in the past four years that I can’t help but be very optimistic over Joe Biden’s ascension to leadership.

—Chip Dawson 

I’m somewhat optimistic because I think the country has hit rock bottom in the last few weeks and the only way is up. So far the President has struck the right tone and maybe enough people are appalled at the attack on the Capitol that some finally realized that Trumpism had gone too far. The big thing that will stop us from moving forward, the extremists on either side who push their agendas, especially politicians who support it.

—Warren Hern 

We have a $27 trillion federal debt, we run chronic budget deficits that Washington doesn’t seems to care about and the Democrat agenda is to create more entitlements such as student loan debt forgiveness. Also, to be clear about question #2 above, President Biden won’t end the pandemic. Vaccines will. Vaccines that the Pharmaceutical Industry, which legislators continually bash, created in record time. They should get credit for ending the pandemic, not elected officials.

—Geoff Rosenberger

The United States citizens have become used to expressing their opinion and thinking that only their opinion counts. There is no talking and no ability to compromise. This is the era of complete rejection of facts and the challenge of the experience of those that have expertise, I have no doubt that the former President will continue to find ways to communicate his terrorist ideas among those that listen to him. The United States is in for a long era of discontent. While I think that President Biden is level headed and is the right person in the right time because of his calm demeanor, it is hard to counteract the screaming pundits of falsehoods and conspiracy. We have to continue to hope and pray.

—Linda Hopkins 

The economic starting point is relatively strong whereas the new president’s historical abilities to grow an economy are very weak. Hopefully his history will not repeat itself.

—Mark Belanger 

While I believe our new President is committed to collaboration and unification, he can’t do it unilaterally so he will still need some level of cooperation from across the aisle.

—Dave Fiedler 

I am optimistic because the majority of people are so anxious to get things moving in a positive direction.

—Don Bartalo 

I feel confident that there will be time & energy spent on positive discussions & solutions to solving problems. I am confident the vaccine program acceleration will allow for a September/October closer to normal spending & interaction at retail & restaurants. My confidence in next 12-18 months gives me confidence for the next 4 years.

—Howie Jacobson 

I think it will go something like this, in this order: Secure a majority in the Senate (Done). Dump the Filibuster (only 51 Senate votes needed to pass a bill or POTUS appointee). Enact new voting laws/procedures to make vote by mail and ballot harvesting universal (already done in some jurisdictions… it will spread to all states and make sure Republicans never again gain a majority). Stack the Supreme Court with 2 or more leftist Justices (legislate from the bench by voiding any GOP flavored lawsuit). Grant Statehood to D.C., and quite possibly Puerto Rico (Senate gains 4 more seats, likely all Democrat). Attack the 2nd Amendment (either complete repeal or with crippling regulations and taxes). Attack the 1st Amendment (start with ridiculous hate speech laws, and morph from there). Running concurrently with all this will be the removal and repeal of all things even remotely Trump. The old adage that warns about “Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater” will not just be ignored but gleefully celebrated. And lastly, 2 years and a day after the inauguration, Biden will be removed and Harris will ascend to what by then will be head of the American version of a Politburo. Having not served a full term she would be eligible to run for office twice, securing control for the following 10 years. Print this out and hang it on your refrigerator. You’ll need the reference material in the future when I tell you I told you so. 

—Max Remley 

I’m optimistic that the new Administration will quell the dark tenor of hatred that has consumed our nation and that President Biden will restore the decorum and dignity of the Presidency.

—Shelly Dinan 

I have little confidence that the Democratic Party and its members in Congress will have the discipline to work together well in the Country’s interest, and less confidence that the Republican Party members will be able to resist self-serving obstructionism. But I hope, nonetheless.

—Michael D. Leach 

There are several reasons for optimism. First, President Biden has already assembled an experienced and competent team to assist him. Second, Democrats control both houses of Congress. Three, the majority of Americans, even those who didn’t vote for him, are happy (to) turn the page and at least try to move on. Four, with the vaccine now a reality, the country will start to shake off the restrictions posed by the virus. Five, Biden will work to provide financial aid to states and citizens which in turn will help to kick-start the economy. Six, any improvement in foreign relations and in turn making trade a bit less acrimonious, should help our trade deficit, especially agricultural products. I believe the vast majority of people in this country have a bit more spring in their step now that Joe Biden is President, and that will translate to a more positive way of doing business.

—Frank Orienter, Rochester, NY 

No one man can turn things around—we are a nation of self-interests and are headed for destruction, probably from within, as we turn further away from God and towards self. We are such a great nation with great people but mostly poor and partisan leadership.

—David Terp 

I’m optimistic that a Biden presidency permits the country to focus on growth, building and healing. Whether that’s because of Biden remains to be seen, though I do believe most people are ready to move forward, creating solutions together.

—Aron Rein 

There are so many issues facing the US and the world today. I believe it will take not only a unification of the US, but a global unity to align the population for prosperity. Anything less is a wasted drop in the bucket. The world can no longer afford our vanity, our selfish pride, and our ignorant destruction of our planet and future.

—Tiffany Todd 

The economic stimulus and retreating pandemic with vaccination rollout.

—Ira Korn 

I believe Biden will lead from a position of calm and thoughtfulness.

—Remy Fenster 

I worry about the Democrats ruining our great country with their reckless ideas especially immigration.

—Daniel Mossien 


We have the ability as a country to mend our differences. We have to get back to basics.

—Peter Messner 

I think that the United States has passed our time as a world leader. We have squandered our economic and cultural leadership position. Now we are seeing factions within America fighting to retain their former share of a shrinking slice of world influence. Like all great empires, ours will not last forever. The new President will likely set a more positive tone, but many Americans are suffering, many are angry, and positive thoughts alone will not correct our divisions.

—Michael Benz, Minneapolis, MN 

I am optimistic because the past 4 years have shown what happens when we are not attentive to these issues. We don’t have a choice. We must move forward. Continued gridlock is not an option.

—Peter Knapp 

President Biden’s long history of faithful service to our country and his ability to work across the aisle give me confidence in his intentions to achieve the goals he has set for his term. His faith and loyalty demonstrate that he will be tireless in his efforts in working on our behalf; the obstacles against him are immense, with Congress and country, so bitterly divided. We all need to pray for President Biden: A prayer for him is a prayer for our country.

—Dionne Parker 

The Democratic party has spent so many years on self survival and being at war with Trump & the Republicans that the leadership does not know how to focus on the needs of the American people without the “how might this hurt the DNC or make us vulnerable” distorting how they form solutions. Like history has shown, after a war, the Generals should no longer lead.

—Tom Fecteau

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. Paul Ericson is executive editor.

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