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Be patient with progress in 2021

Looking through the archives of the Lake Placid News and our sister newspaper, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, it’s easy to find times when life was tough in America. It’s just a hunch, but the year 2020 was probably among the top five worst in modern history — not just for the United States but for the world — due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For a sense of reflection — which we like to do this time of the year — let’s look at the Jan. 2, 1942 issue of the News, less than one month after entering World War II. It’s a fitting time to revisit as Americans are facing uncertainty going into 2021 much like they were in 1942. Circumstances were much different, but the mix of fear, hope and the unknown were the same.

“One thing may be certain; we have to pass thru our ordeal of fire to come out the other side the better men and women fit to help rebuild the world. …

“The war with its attendant suffering was bound to come. It has been in the cards for years. The cut of the deal, made early in December before 1941 had died, throws the bad luck our way, but losing or winning we still remain American people who have taken our losses standing up and with good sportsmanship knowing that the next hand may be all Aces and we may again shout ‘Happy New year’ and have it heard around the globe.”

Let’s also look at the Dec. 31, 1952 issue of the Enterprise. Just like in 2021, the country faced a new president of a different party in 1953. Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower took over for Democrat Harry S. Truman in the White House. In 2021, it’s Democrat Joe Biden taking over for Republican Donald Trump.

The editorial — “Our history in 1953” — reads much like the one we’d write today. It talks about the challenges facing the nation, the uncertainty of a new president and rational expectations for change. In 2016, the media and national leaders did the same thing, asking the public to give Trump — a television star rather than a politician — a chance. A similar sentiment was given toward Eisenhower after his 1952 election.

“The United States need not resolve to be different in 1953. For the first time since 1933, its affairs will be in the hands of another political party. A new team is taking over, with a new outlook.

“What Americans can resolve is to give this team a fair chance to show what it can do. General Eisenhower was handed a mandate to invoke change. But in this rugged world, change cannot necessarily be wrought overnight.

“The Korean war, inflation, communism in government, federal economy, all the issues that seemed to resist solution under the Democratic administration, will not now with sudden magic yield to easy answers.

“The party in power has had years to grapple with these problems, years to examine the catalog of alternatives. The Eisenhower administration is not going to solve them all in the space of one to six months.

“The people voted for action and fresh thinking and have a right to expect these things. But in their eagerness for solutions, they must still realize the improbability of miracles.

“Success, if it comes, will come slowly. New administrators need time to earn their way, time to cut away the deadwood of past government habit. Complexity is the great common denominator of today’s problems. New policy is not born quickly out of such a wilderness of difficulties.

“American, then, must be patient with their new leaders. …”

The editorial continues, but the message is clear. It’s the same message to Americans as Biden takes office on Jan. 20: Be patient.

The new presidential team has a huge task ahead battling the pandemic. The health aspect of this crisis is daunting enough, never mind the economic and social upheaval that resulted. And that’s just one problem.

Biden is also faced with rebuilding all that Trump has dismantled over the past four years, starting with rejoining the Paris climate accord. That in itself is a full-time job.

There is no shortage of work to be done in Biden’s White House. But don’t expect that our nation’s problems — or the pandemic — will be fixed overnight. It will take years.

Our wish for the new year is that Americans will be better off on Dec. 31, 2021 than they are today. Happy new year.