It’s Monday morning, Nov. 16, and I have just been tested for COVID-19. No test results yet, but what I saw at the test site reminded me why I still love America.

My COVID-19 test was at a drive-through tent at a Park Nicollet clinic site in Lakeville. In below freezing temperatures, the ladies who administered the tests in the open-air shelter were dressed in heavy winter clothing plus COVID-19 protective gear. Nevertheless, they were efficient and cheerful in doing a task most of us would rather not do. I left the tent feeling thankful, thankful for them and for many others who are working to keep America upright during difficult times; police and firefighters, teachers, retail store employees, post office workers, men and women in the military and so many more.

I’m also cheered by the announcement from Pfizer and its German partner, of unprecedented progress in the effort to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Based upon extensive testing to date, it’s reported the vaccine is over 90% effective in preventing infection, and that 40 million doses may be ready before year-end for those at high risk. The fact that the Trump Administration signed a $1.95 billion purchase deal with Pfizer back in July for the purchase of a COVID-19 vaccine, was undoubtedly a factor in providing incentive to Pfizer and its partner to have the product available ASAP.

I attribute this good news to a free enterprise system that still exists in America. The Trump Administration will claim some credit for this development, and undoubtedly a Biden Administration will claim credit as benefits of this development extend over the next year or two. That’s what career politicians do, but the majority of credit must go to the pharmaceutical companies and their employees who stepped up to meet the challenge. Although routinely maligned by the political left, these companies did what needed to be done. Having the necessary expertise, they invested hundreds of millions of company dollars to develop a solution to eradicate the virus. While I recognize it will take time to manufacture and distribute the vaccine to all those who need it, I believe there is now light at the end of the tunnel. This exciting news is much more uplifting than the daily COVID-19 body count that our national news services feed us daily.

More good news. By the time this column reaches mailboxes in Prior Lake, I should be in a deer stand in northern Wisconsin, enjoying a once-a-year tradition with sons, grandsons and a granddaughter. Being together in a cabin during the COVID-19 epidemic raised concerns, but we have all taken significant precautions that included COVID-19 testing as mentioned earlier.

Three years ago, a column I wrote, "Reflections from a deer stand," lamented the loss of American values that I grew up with. As kids, we were taught the importance of mutual respect, and of respect for government and private institutions, our nation, our flag and of course elected officials. Mutual respect was a way of life, and to act otherwise was simply considered unacceptable. Respectful disagreement and debate were acceptable, but not caustic disrespect. What was considered unacceptable then, seems to have become the norm today.

There are some in our nation who are continuously searching for flaws in our democracy, or imperfections in individuals with whom they disagree. Their findings, whether valid or not, become the political tools used to undermine our nation’s history and its accomplishments, and to attack the character and credibility of others. The findings become the excuse for some to loot and torch small businesses. Sadly, this movement if that’s what it is, is often encouraged by a national news media that seems to thrive on reporting everyone’s flaws except their own, and by politicians who have discovered the usefulness of unsubstantiated accusations.

Visible examples of this movement are the supposedly spontaneous (but well organized) protests shouting anti-police, anti-president and anti-racism slogans. The allegation of systemic racism in America is particularly troubling to me. Our nation, with less than a 15 % black population, twice elected a black president. This fact ought to represent verification that our nation is not “systemically racist,” but the quest by some political operatives and the news media to be politically accommodating, say otherwise. The lawlessness now overtaking the City of Minneapolis and other cities is a tragic example of where this is taking America.

Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.

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