La Esperanza (Hope) makes for a great breakfast—desayuno, breaking the fast! But, so the expression goes, it makes for a lean supper. Residents of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, like thousands, no, millions of other Americans of all ethnic or religious groups, just had their hopes dashed. 

Last Thursday, a Democratic plan for U.S. economic re-development was scuttled by Republicans in the Senate (and two disloyal Democrats). This Wednesday, the same reactionary, negative forces did it again—this time a blow to the sanctity of the Vote, the basis of democratic governing itself. Republicans opposed the ability to vote and to have votes of legitimate elections guaranteed! Please remember those anti-progress and anti-Democracy Senators. Their names will live in infamy.

What is to be done? In so many ways, we—and Democracy—are trapped. We are stuck in a federal system, each state having two Senators. Nothing equal about that. To give you an idea of the imbalance, the lack of democracy, California and New York state, together, have a population of 70 million. They have four Senators, four votes in the Senate. North Dakota and South Dakota, together, have a population of 1 and ½ million . . . but also have four Senators, four votes! The South, where Republicans predominate, for so long controlled the Senate. Democrats—and Democracy itself—face an uphill climb. 

Add to the trap of the skewed federal system a political party (Republican), many of whose national leaders claim the last election fraudulent, and fears for Democracy are compounded. This is even now the case locally, here in little ol’ Hidalgo County, Texas, where we pride ourselves on trying to avoid most of upstate, out of state divisiveness. Yes, it is bizarre, but at least one Republican candidate for County Judge refuses to recognize the law; she sneers at the legitimate results of the last presidential election. Republicans might look embarrassed (I hope), then look the other way, and accept her. But true Democrats would cross her out—of their mind and their ballots.

Meanwhile, it’s breakfast time. What desayuno did President Biden offer us, deliver to us? Not just chilaquiles (although I love them) but huevos rancheros, perhapswith mole poblano! And, of course, with frijoles refritos y tortillas—de maiz, por favor! Yum! First, a bi-partisan, infrastructure plan.He even explained what “infrastructure” is. He did so again in his “Fireside Chat” to the nation this past Friday. 

Infrastructure is bridges and roads, steel and concrete, power lines and, yes, even “chips” – microchips – necessary not only for your television, your refrigerator, your washer/dryer, but for your automobile and a hundred and one other essential items (President Biden, Speech to nation, MSNBC, 21 January 2022). 

Infrastructure means jobs, means more economic development for working men and women. And not just 12,000 new jobs in Columbus, Ohio (a brilliant deal with Microsoft, building a microchip factory, keeping jobs in the USA). That, via a “trickle-out” effect from the $20 billion program, will come to Texas, to the Rio Grande Valley. Not only are there infrastructure programs throughout the nation, but there are one half a million Latinos in Ohio. Seven percent of residents of Columbus alone are Mexican American. Many have family in south Texas.

The President explained today this program is about “jobs and national security” as well. He extolled the emphasis in the program on the “resiliency of supply chains,” guarding against hacking and errors. Also, already passed the Senate, winding its way up for his signature, is an additional “Innovation and Competition Act” – more investment, this time up to $50 billion! Don’t say “nada” is getting done!

All this, maybe, is dessert? Perhaps, if that is fitting after breakfast. That is, the plato fuerte was the initial $1.9 trillion Covid-19 Relief legislature, also, in its own way, an economic measure, as well as emergency healthcare measure. It included $1,400 direct payments to many (Aubry Jewett, Professor, Political Science, University of Central Florida, 21 January 2022). Of course, voters will not forget Republicans scuttled President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation (to include a childcare tax credit so many need and universal kindergarten), but parts of it may survive.

With President Biden as leader, the desayuno Democrats provided the above comida, or sustenance, as the country faced the worse pandemic in 100 years. He led the nation from dismal figures—one percent of the population vaccinated when he took office–to 75 percent vaccinated today. He and we also faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Add to the mix, to this “perfect storm” of crises, disgraceful racial inequality and continued climate change.

The President persists, does his part; among other changes, he has had confirmed new federal judges, now 80 percent women and 53 percent persons of color. The United States has rejoined the Paris Climate Accords. Much has been done; much, however, remains. But, be advised, “Biden’s presidency is not in peril” (Powers, Kirsten, “Joe Biden is not Failing or Flailing”, CNN, 21 Jan 22). He can’t be expected to fix every problem in the world in 365 days, as many naysayers, many headlines seem to proclaim. President Biden created and signed the American Rescue Plan, promoting broad distribution of vaccines, but he can’t force people to get vaccinated. (Don’t you know a few?)

The President did issue mask mandates to protect the health of the Americans, but the Republican dominated Supreme Court nullified them. Republican obstructionism is not Biden’s fault. But, overall, economic news is mostly good. Unemployment is down and wages are up. “The country is in a better place than when Biden took office” (Powers).

We here in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas are, perhaps, like a breakfast taco–carne molida caught between two crisp, crunchy sides. One side is the U.S., the other, Mexico, where President AMLO, like Trump before him, also avoided rapid action to stem the threat of Covid. But, we are now beginning to rebound. We had a great breakfast, a welcome desayuno, “breaking the fasting,” gracias a Dios, and gracias to President Biden’s economic leadership. 

But we are still in the clutches of various manifestations of worldwide disease, which may continue for some time. It has been prolonged by foolish, selfish individuals–anti-vaxxers–and by one devious political party and its disdain for Democracy. Seventy-one percent of Republicans continue to deny the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential elections (Poll, University of Massachusetts, Amherst). Only belief in truth, transparency and science, and in the hope for fair, democratic voting and counting of votes will get us out of this horrific “perfect storm” of crises. So, Provecho! Or, bon appetite! May you enjoy your next meal.   

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Dr. Gary Joe Mounce, a retired professor and writer based in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Mounce can be reached by email via: [email protected]

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows a traditional Mexican breakfast plate, Huevos Rancheros. Photo credit: AllRecipes.com.


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