2021: A Time to Dream

This has been a rough year. For many of us, it’s been the most challenging of our entire lives. But this morning, we finally got news of a brighter future. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are moving into the White House.

It’s been a hard-fought, and unprecedentedly ugly, campaign season. But I have supported Joe and Kamala because I am inspired by their persistence in keeping a hopeful eye to the future, with a realistic and patient view of the present.

Rick Steves’ Europe has a full slate of European tours all locked, loaded, and ready to book for 2021. But we’re holding off on taking sign-ups…because, like the president-elect (and unlike the president-unelect), we recognize that we’re not yet out of the woods of this pandemic. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am not a patient person. But, like so many other things in 2020, being patient is something I am discovering for the first time…and I find that patience feels right.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are going up across the USA. And they’re going up across Europe, too. Europe is responding thoughtfully, with tightening restrictions and strong public messaging. America’s response has — so far — been no response at all…or flat out denial. If we want to get traveling in 2021, we have to hunker down and be safe over the next few months. Obviously, we all want our economy to be open and to thrive. Artful, smart, and temporary degrees of “shut down” may well be our best path to that open and thriving economy. Our soon-to-be-former president has made no indication of understanding that. But our next president certainly does. And that’s just one of many reasons I’m happy with the results of this election. And why, if you’re hoping to go to Europe any time soon, you should be, too.

One more note: I am sure many of you disagree with my politics — and I may disagree with yours. But, if you follow me on Facebook, I assume we are united by a love of travel. If you feel I’ve abused my “bully pulpit” the last month or so, I hope you’ll understand it’s because I love this country and desperately want to see us back on an equal footing with the rest of our planet. Every election, I have a strong preference of candidate — though normally I respect the other guy. (And, it must be noted, it’s always been a guy.) But this year, it was personal. I felt that supporting the Biden/Harris ticket was a nonpartisan act of patriotism. It was for the resilient (yet, as we’ve learned, not indestructible) ideals of what America stands for — ideals that inspire lovers of freedom and democracy and justice throughout the rest of the world.

While millions more voted for Biden, about 48% of our country did vote for Trump. One of my many dreams for 2021 is that the GOP can be reclaimed from the hateful, chaotic fringe of the Trump movement and restore respect and civility to our national discourse. Even as a proud Democrat, I have always respected Republicans. (And, as I recently confessed, I even voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980.) I have many Republican friends who I consider good people, admirable patriots, and great travelers. We’ve always found plenty of common ground, even if we agree to disagree on the issues. And I’m hopeful that the Biden Administration will be a time of national reconciliation — an opportunity to recognize that far more unites us than divides us. That’s especially important during a crisis.

And so, congratulations to Joe and Kamala! Now…get to work. Keep us safe. Spearhead the building of a sustainable and just economy. Make us proud. With your leadership, America’s gonna keep on travelin’!