What were we talking about before Covid-19? In terms of political discourse of the upcoming election, the impeachment, the state of the union…somewhere in there Covid-19 changed the trajectory of historical events into an unknowable, almost alternate reality.
Toilet paper, of all things, was the first sign that people were ready to hunker down and stay home for who knows how long. It was strange and odd to watch lines of people coming out of Costco with carts full of what was once thrown carelessly in front of front yards as a prank. More than any other resource, something set off a panic that swept the nation that a virus would force people to stay inside. Was it an inside job at Quilted Northern, was there some insider trading going on at Procter & Gamble who owns Charmin?
What would have life looked like if this virus had never occurred? What would be taking precedence over the political pundits’ discussions and projections? Underneath the pandemic still lies a growing sense of social injustice and it made it’s glaring appearance over the killing of George Floyd in May. Simultaneously we saw two societal shifting events moving both perspective and culture in opposing yet similar directions.
The killing of a black man by a white male police officer just two months into an almost nationwide lockdown, perpetuated the problem unlike what had been seen in previous protests. This outrage sent people to the streets by the thousands in cities across the nation. It’s as if the pandemic stopped to make room for the underlying problem in our society.
It has been predicted (source) that when there is mass government control of the people, eventually there is revolt in some way shape or form. Not to belittle the killing of one man in any way, it was used as a patsy. It gave some people what they wanted which was a reason to ignore governmental orders. It was a collective reason to create what some call a mob mentality. If we as a group decide that something is right or wrong, then truth can be turned into whatever the group wants. When people have been cooped up in doors and there is a movement to fight a social injustice that allows you to get outside, things that are already out of hand can get worse.
What's happening around the globe is both new and old. While this particular virus is new, pandemics and the effects of infectious diseases are as old as mankind. And when we think about how to grapple with the situation in front of us, we should be looking to the past for guidance - because this is about far more than a pandemic, it's about humans.
What we saw play out over the summer was nothing short of humanity behaving in a predictable manor. The people that stayed inside would watch on their tv, night after night, those who chose to leave their house to be a part of what looked like a revolution. People were yelling for the removal of an institution that was designed to protect them. To what end?
We heard famous people telling us to imagine a world free of violence and racism and yet the events that were perpetuated as social justice seemed like just another form of violence and racism. We were exchanging one form of a broken human system to a lesser organized broken system and not seeing the hypocrisy of it all.
It was highly politicized for a little over two months. Letters were painted on city streets outside of their capital buildings. A couple of notable places took over portions of their cities downtown district, setting up homemade barriers to keep the government out. Some mayors and governors stood by, calling it a necessary protest. Then innocent people started getting killed. At some point toward the end of this social experiment, people saw that it was counterintuitive to create an uncontrollable protest that ended up killing children.
There were two views being projected by the social justice warriors, one was to abolish the police system, the nicer way of stating this was to say defund the police. Abolishing the police as a talking point, was quickly realized by some movers and shaker of our culture to be an extreme stance. They even realized defunding the police wasn’t going to sit well either with the majority of Americans. The second option became, “Redirect some of the police funding.”
At the same time in the middle of the summer, Covid-19 spiked across major states in the U.S. causing more panic and fear. If you watched only certain sources of news, you heard three things repeatedly: people are mostly peacefully protesting with burning buildings behind the news anchor, Covid-19 was out of control so places of business must stay closed for the good of everyone, and lastly that the current administration was to blame for it all.
Fear, fear and even more fear. How is it that the incumbent presidential candidate is not able to crush his opponent who has done an exponentially less amount of campaigning? How is it that the national polls show that a retired politician is beating the new guy who arguably never stopped campaigning since he announced his race over four years ago?
Fear and hate drives people to do things that they feel do not require explanation. It is human to act irrationally and resort to their basic survival instincts when one’s livelihood is attacked. The virus, the perceived racists police system and the hate and distain for a political figure, in my opinion, has made this election unlike anything we have ever seen.
A form of derangement syndrome has been used to describe this type of distain, where talking isn’t even an option for people who do not agree with them. It has been four years of nonstop ridicule and mockery for the incumbent candidate and his political base is numb. They feel nothing from emotional words screamed in their faces because they are seeing the end result. Some people would rather everyone lose than to try and have an open dialogue about policy.
This election is not about policy for many, it is about a person. It depends on which person you either like more or hate the least. It appears, as of today, a week before the election, that one person will win simply because people are afraid of and hate the other. He might win without having to go on the traditional campaign trail and instead allow former political heads to do the talking for him.
However, no matter what the polls project, we learned four years ago that they can error and error greatly. As well, it is about the electoral college; it’s a system that allows for the change in which places in the country people’s opinion matters because their way of life is different than where you live. These swing states are a natural check within the voting system that forces those seeking the highest office in the land to earn a demographic vote. This requires knowing people from all walks of life within our nation and forming a message that let’s them know their needs will be addressed. This is the purpose of the electoral college, it isn't a national popularity contest, it's about the representation of the States.
I predict, the one who has campaigned the most, who has been the most strategic and worked the hardest, will win people’s votes at the end of the day. Those middle-class Americans who take up the badge, who live all across the nation, get to vote for the person who supports them. This is why the rioting is no longer in the news. It was hurting someone’s campaign. There were months of social upheaval and during the rioting the incumbent candidate asked for law and order and the other candidate said nothing. The pandemic and the social unrest became a political weapon that stood only to hurt one candidate because the other had nothing to gain by speaking or to lose by staying silent.
It wasn’t until it showed in the polls that the majority of people were not happy with the length of time the rioting was allowed that the silent candidate decided to speak out. That’s when we knew it was a weapon, an arrow in his quiver just waiting to be used to help win an election. While our cities burned, one candidate sought to bring chaos to order and the other just watched.
There are middle class Americans who work hard to provide power to keep our lights on, our houses warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It’s what allows us to keep food fresh for weeks and our entertainment on all night. Being energy independent is bigger than people are making it out to be and in this last debate, I think someone lost. The true colors were shown when the opposing candidate admitted that how this nation gets its energy will come at a costly change under his administration. Almost as if the Green New Deal is the goal, above the lives of the voters.
The incumbent candidate paused, as if a teacher in a classroom and said, “Hold on, did you hear that?” Is everyone listening, let’s make the stated policy crystal clear so that you know what you are voting for. With that dramatic ending, I think the fate of the election was decided.
Two Final Thoughts
First, if character was on the ballot the last go around, then apply it evenly this time. Many things have come to light and both sides of the aisle have to admit that we are not voting Jesus into the white house, we are voting an ideology that we think will sustain our future. That is where we disagree, our visions for the future are fundamentally and drastically different based on the policies that you are voting for in the present.
The second thought is this, how will you respond when your candidate does not get elected as president? Can you see that life will continue in either direction? Do you see that there are checks and balances in this great republic that keep any one person or party from making all the decisions? This election may not be to your liking, but there is two years from now, there are run off elections, there are impossible unknowable’s. Keep your head up, figure out what you are living for and know that you can choose to live that, no matter who is president.
In Truth & Love,
Matthew J. Diaz
thumbnail image: Photo from 1999 WTO Seattle Riots