Several days ago, when I started this entry, it began with the old adage that a week in politics is a lifetime. My focus then was on the turnaround that had rescued Joe Biden’s candidacy from the graveyard and driven Bernie Sander’s to the brink. That was a few days before the corona virus overshadowed life as we knew it and brought on a very real crisis.
The crisis is all the moreso because it has demonstrated with perfect clarity just how inept, incompetent and clueless Donald Trump is when confronted with a situation that requires real leadership. He is incapable of providing anything like it.
Like many of you I am now closeted in my very comfortable home. My refrigerator is full of food. I have plenty more in cabinets. So there’s no fear of starving. Still, this is the most anxious time since the economy fell apart in 2008-09, or maybe since I found myself in the Marine Corps (surprise! the Marine Corps drafts when they need men) or perhaps in our lifetime. We’re being told to stay home, but obviously somebody has to go to work or food will entirely disappear from grocery shelves–along with toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
We miss each other, and the telephone or even FaceTime is a poor substitute for face to face conversation with friends. But supposedly isolating ourselves from each other denies the virus the opportunity to move from one of us to the other.
One of the silver linings in this experience is that–for the moment–Trump has stopped braying about how gifted and brilliant he is, how perfectly he’s handling this situation (don’t call it a crisis!) and how the Democrats and the media are hoaxing (yes, it’s a word) the electorate with exaggerated claims about the virus. Meanwhile, he takes no responsibility for anything. Wherever the buck stops, it doesn’t come close to his desk.
One more thing slightly off the subject. Trump has made keeping aliens out of the country a priority, scheming to build a wall at the southern border despite the refusal of Congress to fund it. He has warned from time to time that he is trying to avert an invasion. Now, he finds his presidency threatened by an invasion he can’t stop with bluster or barriers. The Corona virus is invading our country, in part because of the incompetence of this administration which, among other things, dismantled the White House apparatus designed to anticipate, plan for and establish the infrastructure to combat epidemics and pandemics.
I was examining tomatoes in the supermarket the other day, wearing my protective latex gloves, when the woman standing dangerously close to me asked if I thought the tomatoes were “good”. I allowed as how this was, after all, a supermarket and one had to lower one’s expectations. She was also wearing latex gloves. I asked her where she got them. “Oh,” she said, “I bought them in a store. I work at NIH. We’ve been preparing for this for quite a while.” We could have been preparing for this for quite a while, individually and as a country, if we had been told the truth about the situation and the White House hadn’t sat on the responsible agencies to keep them from doing much.
Here we are. We will have an opportunity soon to install competent, experienced, knowledgeable people in positions where they can start to right the ship of state and us along with it. We won’t be trapped in our homes forever. When that opportunity comes we will have to take meaningful action.
What, as Vladimir Lenin once asked, is to be done? Each of us needs to ask ourself “What can I do?” We can give money, of course, if we can afford it. More than that, more importantly, we can invest our energies by knocking on doors, working phone banks, doing whatever volunteer work is needed. And not in our own neighborhood, city or state if the issue isn’t in doubt near you. If you live in California, think about going to Arizona for a few weeks. If you live in New York, Maryland or Washington, DC, go to Pennsylvania. If you live in Chicago or northern Illinois, go to Wisconsin. Working on a political campaign is boring, but it’s also exhilarating, working on a worthy cause at a moment in our history when the stakes couldn’t be greater.
Think about it, though. We’re a long way from the finish line. A lot could change. The election is still eight months away. Assuming that Biden continues to win primaries, he is the likely nominee. Bernie Sanders did well as long as moderate candidates were splitting the moderate vote. With the exit of Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg, the moderate vote coalesced around Biden. But the Democratic Convention–if there is one–is also months away.
But that’s in the future. Right now, we’re stuck inside or on our porches if the weather is good. Stay safe, be well and drink plenty of fluids.