The good old, less bad days

Dear President Trump,

It struck me the other day that I was missing times past when we were all focused on whether we could invoke Article 25 or we could watch and see whether this or that egregious abuse of power was going to be the thing that finally brought you down. How is it that the days when those of us on the West Coast were worried about you provoking North Korea into launching a nuclear attack in our direction have a somewhat golden haze around them?

Even more awful, and very selfish of me, is that I’ve found myself missing the times past when we could focus on your asinine wall and your horrific treatment of asylum seekers and the uncertain plight of the Dreamers. Seeing that in myself was not a proud moment. It actually pulled me up short and forced me to more fully reckon with the fact that while your reign of terror is now directly impacting all of us, you and your administration have made life a living hell for countless among us as they try to avoid ICE, drive under the speed limit to avoid being pulled over while Black, join the ranks of those sleeping unsheltered, or file for bankruptcy because they can’t pay their medical bills. Seeing that in myself also clarified for me that it’s really all of a piece – we got here from there and the path was straight and entirely predictable.

The covid-19 virus isn’t cruel. The virus is just a virus and it does what viruses do without malice or ill will; no amount of stupid, blame-shifting spin is going to change that. This virus may have first been detected in China but it is not some mysterious foreign entity striking down innocent Americans. It is an extremely tiny thing made up of RNA that is protected by a coating made up of proteins. It doesn’t care whether someone is innocent or guilty, American or Kenyan; if it can take up residence in a living organism and hack that system to replicate itself, it’s fulfilling its mission, a mission with absolutely no moral tone.

However, what this virus is doing is showing us just how far we’ve allowed ourselves to slide towards a cruel, fascist state that appears only too happy to allow a whole heaping bunch of us to die. This virus is showing us how for decades we’ve privileged wealth accumulation for the few over taking care of vital societal functions, positions, and infrastructure in the service of the common good. How is it that the wealthiest (or least we were before covid hit) nation on earth can’t f*cking stand up a comprehensive testing and contact tracing system? How is it that we don’t have enough PPE for health care personnel? How is it that our machinery for issuing treasury checks is from the 1960s and can’t do what we need it to do? How is it that we can find funds for mega-corporations and can’t figure out how the hell to get impoverished and newly out of work individuals money to eat and keep the lights on?

Really, we knew it before, but our completely, horrifically inadequate response to this virus is showing us in the starkest of ways that we are in very deep trouble and that we must, must, must do a hard 180, that we absolutely can’t “get back to normal” because normal is not sustainable in the least. Normal will kill us.

May we be safe from ourselves.
May we be willing to face our true circumstances – no sugar coating or fairy dust allowed.
May we invest in real strength and in our communities’ health.
May we keep agitating non-violently and constructively.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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