Once again, my good friend Michael Dobson wrote what I was feeling down on his Facebook page. Again he graciously let me post his words on my blog. I do have to add something of my own. While we are in lockdown, other people are encouraging us to better ourselves– start a new exercise routine, find a new hobby, learn a craft–something to improve ourselves and keep us occupied during this strange isolation. Yet in an election year, the current leading Democratic nominee is saying that we need to vote for the same stuff we had before 2016 (and possibly for a decade before) as a way to make us all better. If we truly believe in improving ourselves, we really should embrace changing our society. This pandemic has proven that the United States can afford to pay for Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, better funding of infrastructure, and a host of other fixes to a society that is in a slow drawn out death spiral; the Fed pumped close to $3 Trillion to keep the stock market afloat for a week or so. If we are going to improve our society after the pandemic is over, we must learn to invest in the populace over profit. For now, listen to my friend Michael Dobson.
The hardest part in all this for me, isn’t the deaths and losses. I grew up around death and loss. It isn’t people suffering. I have seen a man in a hospice bed suffer greatly for months as he died. It isn’t seeing people – including people I know, people I care about – lose their jobs, fear economically. I’ve lived through recessions, they’re pretty much baked into our economic system; and I fear losing my job. It isn’t “shelter in place” orders or quarantines. I’ve been in survival situations before, where I have been glad to come out of where I was in, glad for still having my life. These are all situations you and I have little to no control over, beyond what we can do with ourselves.
It’s the callousness. It’s the hard-heartedness. It’s the people who are seeing people suffering, seeing people who are genuinely afraid of the economic impacts on them. And going “oh well.” Because it doesn’t affect those callous individuals. Yet.
I wanted this to not be political when the thought came to my head. But the truth is, it is. The truth is, this is EXACTLY the time where we need a strong federal government to be stepping in, and showing people that they will be taken care of, that they will be ok. Fuck Libertarian fantasies of us all living out in the woods somewhere, growing and hunting our own food, relying solely on ourselves. That hasn’t been the way of life for the majority of America before my father’s time. Never mind how things like mine waste and fracking run off can fuck up your idyllic cabin in the remote wilderness, real quick. Ask someone who lives in West Virginia how much you can count on water from a stream or creek.
The thing is though, it’s not just Republicans I’m angered by, in all this. It’s the callousness and hard-heartedness I see in moderate and centrist Democrats. It’s recognizing that we are living in an age where (and y’all know this statistic, because I saw how many of you share it) a $400 emergency would financially devastate the average American family. And seeing hospital bills for people – even with the “good” insurance – be over 10X more than that. And watching these same callous people still argue for the same healthcare system we already have. Which’s not only going to screw more people over financially, but we’ve already seen people die because they were turned away from medical treatment, because they didn’t have health insurance. It’s seeing people talking about how “grocery store employees are the real heroes,” and not wanting to guarantee those “heroes” the same kinda health insurance and medical care that my friends in Canada and the United Kingdom take for granted. Or a minimum wage they can actually live on. It’s seeing stuff people have been pointing out for years are REAL problems, that are impacting REAL PEOPLE, get made so much worse under the magnifying glass in the sun that is this damn virus. For all some of you listen to NPR and hear people talk about folks in other countries – do you either not get that we could have the same standard of living as people in other developed Western nations? Or do you just not give a fuck – because hey, you’re white and middle class, so this shit ain’t on your doorstep?
We are facing another Great Depression. Anyone who’s telling you or themselves otherwise, is either high, stupid, or selling something. We need a lot more than a doddering, sundowning idiot sexual predator, who will talk about small business loans, but won’t talk about rent or how we’re going to subsidize people actually staying the fuck in their homes, like every goddamn doctor keeps telling them to. (For all some of you laud science and doctors, you don’t seem to be making connections between what they’re telling us to do, and what is actually needed for average people to do those things.) You REALLY think that $1,200 check means shit for people who are entering their second month of this?
I have said this before, and I will say it again here: we are either going to have another FDR (without the racism, segregation & Nisei camps), or we’re going to end up looking like Germany, Spain, Italy, and Japan in the 1930s. You are not going to beat white nationalism and fascism with moderate incrementalism and appeasing compromise. The Republican Party has already said it’s a-o-kay with white nationalism. Running a person who not only has told younger people to “give him a break” about problems they were facing before this damn virus, but who clings to some outdated fantasy about “meeting in the middle” with the Party of Trump; isn’t how we stop what’s coming. If you’ve spent years telling me Republicans are the problem – why do you want someone who wants to be friends with them, and has stated they’re even open to having one as VP?
I don’t know how to teach you empathy. I don’t know how to teach you to care about other people. I know these are lessons I had to learn in things like the Scouts; where you wanted to give a damn about a guy in your unit going down at camp or on trail, if nothing else because you sure as shit would want someone doing the same, if’n’when it was your ass. Caring about each other was something kids who weren’t old enough to shave or smart enough to keep their boots out of the fire, could still get through their thick heads. Some of y’all, with all your college degrees, should at least be that smart.