Why do we continue to elect politicians who choose profits over people?
Normally, I write pithy plays filled with stichomythic dialogue and biting undertones meant to illuminate differing perspectives. I don’t believe in public displays of emotion, artificial forms of socializing problematically deemed “social media” — problematic because there is no media just marketing, promoting, and publicizing camouflaged as news. I mean, if Fox actually believed its own propaganda about the “Chinese Virus,” why did they take precautionary measures for their own staff? Problematic also because we no longer value veracity, intelligence, or expertise. In a world where Tweet first think later has become the new normal, the formula for occupying the White House, nuance and contemplation have become obsolete. So, right now, I’m not interested in camouflaging my opinions or tempering my rage about a moment that’s so painfully unprecedented and predictable. “Crooked Hillary” warned us, but she was just a woman who didn’t know her place. So, why heed her warning?
The “radical left” was flabbergasted when the electoral college bestowed the last presidential election on a well-known charlatan, bigot, sexist, and thief and so many people were suddenly outraged — an outrage we’ve been criticized for for years. Donald Trump isn’t an anomaly. He’s the inevitable evolution of a nation too indifferent or uninformed to vote for their own interests never mind that of the greater good. Does the notion of the greater good even exist anymore? Its obsolescence seems likely since people continued to pack bars, restaurants, and other public spaces until formally banned from doing so and still struggle with the notion of social distancing. We may make it out of this alive, but we won’t survive. That could be a good thing, but it won’t be.
We could use this moment as an opportunity to work towards righting some of our many social ills, but we won’t. That’s because the most contagious and deadly disease confronting us isn’t on that metal or plastic surface or hands you’ve failed to scrub for 20–30 seconds, it’s in our minds — magical thinking that allows a nation to collectively ignore climate change, the legacy of slavery, systematic oppression of women that seems to pre-date time, economic injustice, cronyism — the list goes on. What republicans, conservatives, libertarians, isolationists — whatever you care to call those people who earnestly cling to the fiction that they’re self-made, rugged individualists — fail to realize is that social support programs are not just empathic and altruistic but self-preservationist. If the events of the past few months show us anything, it’s that we cannot live in a bubble. There are consequences for bigotry, elitism, and ignorance, and no matter how much power and privilege one has, none of us is immune.
I’ve been having a sense of déjà vu lately. This moment is so foreign yet somehow feels so familiar. Is it reminding me of 9/11? Hurricane Sandy? Empty shelves in grocery stores prior to childhood snowstorms? As conversations of a stimulus package started making headlines, I realized it’s reminding me of 2009 — the last time the US government constructed a stimulus package on such a grand scale. Remember that, when then President Obama bailed out banks and other private business enterprises deemed too big to fail? His so-called stimulus package was a virtual get out of debt free plan that left people with problematic mortgages to sink while enabling too big to function corporations to reap previously unforeseen profits. The result? The middle class shrunk, and the economic gap between the haves and the have-nots grew exponentially.
As the current administration contemplates programs akin to universal basic income and socialized medicine, programs mocked, ridiculed, and deemed impossible when supported by Democratic presidential candidates no longer in the presidential race, one could have hope that our elected leaders have finally seen the light, but the so-called stimulus package is coupled with subsidies for major industries that again may be deemed too big to fail but in reality are too big to function. If the survival of these companies is so essential the country cannot function without them, they should be nationalized not propped up until they’re prepared to earn untold billions again. At the very least, send us reimbursement checks, including interest, for the hard-earned dollars we’re unwillingly lending them. Why are unencumbered financial grants called subsidies when they’re allotted to large corporations and handouts when given to hardworking citizens?
As conversations shift to the topic of “the new normal,” what’s quickly become a trending hashtag, it’s necessary to focus on our own health. Once most of us outlive the urgency of merely staying alive, the question of survival will stare us in the face. Will we create policies that embrace health care for all, affordable housing, mandatory paid sick leave, protecting the environment, universal basic income, eliminating the electoral college, term limits, campaign finance reform — among other humanity over corporations policies? This time around, will we press our elected officials to vote for change, or will we succumb to our malaise, clinging desperately to the status quo, and merely survive?