Bad politics kill

Dear President Trump,

Throughout this primary season our daughter has been texting with Laura about the candidates, about how the process is going, how the issues are (and are not) being covered, and who we are voting for and why (I get the texts about recipes and airline schedules). A couple of weeks ago she texted something to the effect of “I didn’t really realize back in 2016 that bad politics kills people.” She said it more eloquently than that, but you get the idea. In 2016 she was 16 and not yet voting, so even though she clearly knew that you being installed was horrible for everyone on the planet, she could be forgiven for not understanding just how horrible the time of Trump could be, would be. If we are honest, I would venture that most of us who did have some inkling of the shit show to come, really had no idea just how bad it could be, would be.

And here we are.

We now officially live in the one quasi-democratic nation in the world where our national leadership is opting to lie to us about critical life and death issues on the off chance that they and their cronies can squeeze another buck out of the system before it croaks. Actually, we’ve lived in such a nation-state for 1143 days now because from Day 1 you attacked reality and people’s lives by implementing your take down of Obama’s work to provide healthcare for nearly all Americans, Obama’s environmental protection efforts, the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran nuclear deal, and then you struck out on your own and stripped wealth from poor and middle class families and shuttled it upstream, you led bogus attacks on asylum seekers, gave carte blanche to violent racist extremists under the cloak of “very fine” personhood, and encouraged misogyny by constant example. Throughout, you’ve been encouraged and enabled by a GOP and various shadowy foreign parties with seriously vested interests; they’ve propped you up and rushed in to quell the dis-ease you routinely set off in the populace.

It almost feels like I’m torturing myself by writing out this litany of your sins, making myself revisit the various turns when so many of us “couldn’t believe he just said that, just did that, really, the President of the United States?” Even as we’ve grown to understand intellectually that nothing, NOTHING, is beneath you, we are still freshly surprised by each new horror as it’s rolled out.

And here we are.

Maybe it’s that we ourselves can’t imagine being so callow and callous. We know we mess up and are insensitive and sometimes even hurtful, but because we know we are striving to be decent people, to be kinder and more patient, we can’t help but subconsciously give you the benefit of the doubt too. Maybe this is why now, even after all you’ve put us through, we are still staring at you slack jawed at the shit lies coming out of your mouth about covid-19 and the level of risk to the country.

At least some of us are, that is – others are still flocking to your packed political rallies, putting themselves, one another, and everyone they later come in contact with at risk. Do they think that rage is going to form a protective bubble through which the virus can’t penetrate? Seriously, in this time and in this situation, how is it that people are still blindly following you off the cliff or tuning you out? Are we that bereft of imagination and foresight?

Why yes, apparently so. If we don’t get that climate change is fueling killer tornadoes, drought, wild fires, flooding – all things we can see and feel – how are we going to grasp the gravity of a viral pandemic that hasn’t personally impacted us? How are we going to get that we shouldn’t be gathering and sharing air borne molecules that may be carrying the virus when our political leaders are putting themselves in danger and telling us that the warnings are silly and to keep our eyes on their eyes, to follow their lead no matter what?

Bad politics do indeed kill people.

And here we are.

May we be safe from bad politics and bad politicians.
May we be willing to take up for one another and say enough is enough.
May we hold our heads high and keep our moral centers healthy and strong.
May we not make peace with learned helplessness.

Tracy Simpson

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