As an American, these days I feel like we are living in the worst of times and paradoxically in the best of times, though I am unsure how it will play out in the short term.
The worst is clear. The trajectory for COVID-19 cases is scary – and with so many in denial about the existence let alone the severity of the virus and with Thanksgiving ahead of us – it is only going to get far, far worse. Many who don’t deny it exists are behaving irresponsibly too. Whether is it COVID fatigue or a misplaced and dangerous sense of invincibility, it does not matter. It will get worse.
Secondly, the president’s denial that he lost the election is an issue. Lawsuits have been withdrawn in multiple states and yet Trump is still behaving like a toddler needing a time out. The refusal of the GOP or those close to him to push him to accept his loss has translated into Trump not allowing President Elect Biden the access incoming presidents always receive to briefings. Experts say this could endanger our nation’s security.
Thirdly, the president’s followers are retreating from social media platforms in order to embrace others like Parler, which does not censor dangerous mistruths. They are also switching from Fox to Newsmax and OAN because Fox did not refuse calling for Biden in the election. This is scary to me because if people only seek out “news” which reinforces and confirms their misinformed opinions and never allow themselves the opportunity to see and understand truths and if others that populate that echo chamber are the kinds of conspiracists which blame Blacks, Jews, immigrants, and anyone else for all the woes of the world, then we will find ourselves in a divided country where large numbers retain their anger while swallowing lies and hate and shun democratic processes.
The picture is bleak.
So why do I also say it is the best of times? Because I am beginning to see the sunlit edges of hope appear to peek out on the horizon.
Biden has announced his COVID-19 task force and it is full of scientists. Not just any scientists, but experts with a demographic diversity that matters, given which communities have been harder hit than others.
He also announced his environment and energy team, and they too are chock full of experts who understand the importance of preserving resources; they also have experience in tribal rights.
Biden’s transition team and its advisory board both prioritize expertise and diversity. He explained why in June, “”My administration’s going to look like America, not just my staff, the administration from the vice president straight down through Cabinet members to major players within the White House, and the court. It’s going to be a reflection of who we are as a nation.”
I know that for us to heal as a nation, we need to come together. Biden’s speech has emphasized that he will be president to us all, not only to those who have voted for him.
For this reason, it is important that those who opposed his election give him a chance.
When I look at such a large portion of our citizenry entering these bubbling echo chambers and refusing to acknowledge both the election results and the health issues our nation faces, I know that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have a tough job ahead of them. I only hope that they can find a way that speaks to the disenfranchised and brings them back into the fold. This task will be enormously difficult if Republican politicians are not willing to open the door a little and give Biden a chance as well.
Between now and inauguration day our world may change drastically. For the worse. With COVID numbers about to skyrocket even more (40% of Americans plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with people other than those who live with them) and the schism in a society which is damaging democracy, I fear what will be.
But I also want to cling to hope. It can get better. If only people allow that to happen.