When this started, in early 2020, there is no way I could have imagined spending almost a year in isolation. More than that, I couldn’t have imagined that one of the two major parties would be callously indifferent to the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon
Tuesday’s Senate vote did me in. So did the reports over the past couple of weeks about how going to the grocery store has become a risk we should reconsider taking. So did hearing pundits discuss what is apparent, that delaying COVID action is “good for the Republicans,” as in, will be helpful to them in their races in two years since they’ll be able to point out how the Democrats weren’t able to get things done. So what if thousands more die and our lives continue to be curtailed.
I’m taking all of this very personally, as I took the attack on the Capitol three weeks ago. I feel perhaps unreasonably upset and disappointed about pulling back from my every two week outing to Trader Joe’s. Maybe I will resume them after I’m vaccinated. But the piece in Vox points out that, by not going, I’m helping to “reduce the number of people in stores, potentially cutting the risk for essential workers or shoppers who can’t order online.” I just placed my first online order at Whole Foods. I’ll pick it up tomorrow afternoon. It’s not the same, but it is an outing and I am very grateful to the employees who will be filling my order.
On the other hand, starting Monday, Governor Inslee is relaxing some COVID-19 restrictions on businesses in seven counties in Washington State. This cognitive dissonance is crazy-making. On the CNN Coronavirus Town Hall last night, the message was clear. Curtail your activities. Don’t travel. Don’t congregate.
The cognitive dissonance coming out of the other Washington is even more distressing. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Q-Anon and House member, who has said that school shootings were staged, has been put onto the House Education and Labor Committee by the GOP. At the same time, there are members of that the same GOP who want to remove Liz Cheney from her No. 3 party position because of her vote to impeach Donald Trump. Tonight, the mother of a Parkland shooting victim, a coach who protected his students, called out Greene’s lies by asking CNN to run footage of kids running up stairs and then being shot. There was no sound with the video, which somehow made it even more chilling.
“They are doubling down on the division.” That’s what Chris Cuomo said tonight after Kevin McCarthy’s trip to Mar-a-Lago today to “kiss Trump’s ring.” The acting Capitol Police Chief has called for permanent fencing around the Capitol. Two men were arrested in the past two days in the vicinity of the Capitol. One, a 71-year-old West Virginian, along with his weapons, was carrying a list of Democratic lawmakers and Stop the Steal literature. Today, Nancy Pelosi said, “the enemy is within the House of Representatives.”
I tell myself I should be used to it by now—the isolation, the callousness, the racism, the deaths, the cruelty, the betrayal of foundational American principles—that I should have moved into a position of, at least, acceptance.
But I’m not used to it and I refuse to accept that it’s the best we can do. If Joe Biden can keep the faith, so can I. Sometimes.