Monday, October 26, 2020

2020: On Pandemics, Genocide, and the Election

How does one even begin a blogpost during the cursed year of 2020 after a four month absence in which we are still in the midst of a pandemic and are mere days away from a presidential election wherein the incumbent has simply, genocidally given up on that pandemic? 

Do people even blog anymore? How does a person even dip the ol' toe back into it when so much has occurred between June 2020 and now?

Let me start how I've been trying to stay centered during everything:

  • Reading - I've been reading about one book per week, almost entirely in the genres of science fiction, memoir, and fiction (no non-fiction or political tomes for me, right now). I log my books on Goodreads, mostly so I have a record of what I've read from year to year, and because I log a lot of notes and quotes from almost everything I read, on my e-reading device.
  • Exercise - I make time every day for 40-60 minutes of exercise, usually at home (via some sort of online instruction) plus at least one walk per day. I wear a mask on my daily walks, even though it's outside and less risky, primarily because I want to be part of a culture that normalizes mask-wearing during a pandemic.
  • Pop Culture - I have watched a few TV series that unexpectedly had same-sex relationships in them as major plot points, including Ratched, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Away, and I'm just going to be upfront about it, shows that include LBT women are about 200% more watchable and interesting to me than shows that only feature cishets. Sorry not sorry.
  • Cooking -  The vast majority of our meals have been homemade, although from time to time we do get take-out/delivery. I have always enjoyed cooking, and I find it satisfying to know how to provide basic sustenance for myself and others. Favorites: homemade biscuits, pizza, chili, veggie/tofu stir fry, Shepard's pie.
  • Political Engagement - A certain segment of extremely online folks think that political activism means "people dunking on people on Twitter" or whatever, but there is a lot, actually, that can be done with and targeting people not in the insular worlds of political Twitter, including contacting voters, helping people register to vote, donating to candidates, and more.

Like many, Joe Biden was not my first choice as a the Democratic nominee, but he ended up being the nominee and is now standing between us and the COVID pandemic - among other things - getting much, much worse. As such, I think every registered voter has a moral obligation to support the Biden/Harris ticket, if only as a matter of harm reduction.

In 2004, after watching in stunned depression as the hated George W. Bush won re-election, I take nothing - no poll, no prediction, no level of assume hatred - for granted in 2020. For, 16 years later, we are working against a Republican party that has only grown more brazenly empowered to cheat and win by any means possible by the vile, hypocritical Mitch McConnell who is ramming through an arch-conservative SCOTUS pick who will possibly serve on the nation's highest court for decades to come, even as he blocked President Obama's "election year" replacement pick for almost all of 2016.

But to take a step back and look more broadly, I think that the COVID pandemic, and more specifically Trump and the Republican Party's genocidal mismanagement of it, should be the defining issue of the 2020 election. 

We now know that a national mask mandate in April would have saved roughly 40% of the lives lost to COVID, but Trump and Republicans have largely ridiculed masks and treated the issue as one of "personal choice" rather than as a public health necessity for the common good. Further, Trump largely won the public "debate," such as it was, to reopen businesses before COVID in the US was anywhere near under control and the US, for many months now, has had the highest COVID death toll in the entire world.

At almost 225,000 dead as of today, we see hundreds of COVID-related deaths per day and it barely makes a ripple anymore in the news.

We, as a nation, should be mourning and grieving, and our political leaders should - at the very least - be acknowledging that.

And, while I believe probably most people in the US have become accustomed to a baseline level of cruel, sociopathic abnormality over the past four years, I don't know what to make of the reality that so many people have apparently become inured to this genocide and death toll other than, perhaps, it is overwhelming for most people to think about, some people are in idiotic denial, and/or our checks and balances in the US - both formal and informal - have profoundly failed.

No institution in the US should be treating what is happening as normal. Not newscasters, not debate moderators, not comedians, not Saturday Night Live and their both-sides fucking bullshit, not schools, not professional sports, not your workplaces and their "HOW was your weekend?" gaslighting questions, not too-cool-to-care personalities and entertained-by-it-all asshat pundits on Twitter, and certainly - certainly - not any person nominated to the US Supreme Court under the circumstances of national emergency while a presidential election is ongoing.

I don't know what to say, really. The events of the my political life as an adult, over the past 20 years, have impressed upon me that while we must not ever give up doing, saying, and fighting for what we believe is right, it's also unfair to pass the buck to the next generation by simply saying, "the young people will save us." 

Not only are there a lot of young misogynists and racists and homophobes, I'm deeply uncomfortable with, for instance, the way that so many adults are entertained by teen victims of gun violence having to regularly re-traumatize themselves on Twitter, by subjecting themselves to rightwing harassment, as part of their work of "saving the rest of us."

I've said this before, but every generation will have to fight its own battles, eventually, when we're gone. And likely, at least some of these battles will be those that have already been fought and won and lost before. Perhaps it is part of our work to leave them tools they can use, or re-purpose, for that task. But, I also refuse to cynically withdraw while I'm still here. My activism won't look like yours, and vice versa, but I think we can all find ways to contribute, and however we contribute I don't know that any of us can predict the end result(s) of our contributions.

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