It is now October. Twenty nine weeks have gone by since the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic here in Annapolis. Last night, my husband and I took a walk in the brisk air to admire the full moon and the Halloween decorations in our neighborhood. While door-to-door trick or treating is discouraged, many families have gone all out to line their walkways with pumpkins and hang skeletons and white cobwebs on porch overhangs. A lighted BOO flashes from a window and orange and purple witch’s hats twinkle from a row of bushes.
We see no one except a lone bicyclist, which means we are comfortable to stroll without our masks. Always, we keep them handy in our pocket. Vigilant to dodge others, if a crowd comes rounding the corner. Our current government leaders however, are not so cautious. At last Tuesday’s Presidential debate, the President of the United States mocked his opponent Joe Biden for always wearing a mask. “And it’s the biggest mask you’ve ever seen,” he said. Now, it is President Trump wearing a mask while boarding a plane for Walter Reed Hospital because he’s contracted the novel coronavirus.
Not only is the President of the United States and the first lady infected, but a whole cadre of his advisors and senators who have been in contact with him during the past week are infected as well. The list of who is testing positive keeps growing. The security of our nation and the safety of our citizens has been put into jeopardy because of carelessness. I watched all four nights of the Republican Convention and I saw very little mask wearing or social distancing. For the Rose Garden speech, many spectators were sitting elbow to elbow. We have a President who has been more concerned with getting re-elected than getting the Pandemic under control. A man who is more interested in getting applause than listening to what the American people have to say.
When did everyone stop listening to one another? I think back to 2016 and I’m certain the dismantling of civility began just after the election. I remember I kept waiting for the angry words to stop being hurled by the man elected president with the majority of electoral votes. Perhaps, I naively hoped, he could grow into the job and become a stately leader. But the angry divisive statements kept coming and they haven’t stopped.
Trump’s support of white supremist hate groups like The Proud Boys don’t surprise me. And his pretense not to know who they are, is an overused ploy he has relied on too many times after former employees and associates are being charged with unethical or illegal actions. A president who thinks there were “good people’” on both sides at the 2017 Charlottesville “Unite The Right” Rally where a woman was murdered says it all.
Last Tuesday night’s debate between Trump and Biden was more like a food fight than a debate. In order to debate you are required to listen. This is something that Trump is unable to do because the spotlight must always be on him. Flustered by being repeatedly interrupted, Biden made mistakes as well on Tuesday night. He lowered himself to making personal attacks and calling the president a clown. This is the kind of behavior I expected from Trump.
Trump’s main goal on Tuesday night was to put a label on his opponent. He wanted to link the words “socialist” and “radical” with Joe Biden. He wanted Americans to be scared they might lose something. If Trump remains President of the United States we will lose much more than we already have in addition to the health and safety of our citizens with his mismanagement of the pandemic. His executive order (August 8thmemorandum) to suspend the Payroll tax indicate his attitude towards the financial stability of Social security and Medicare, forms of government financial support; forms of socialism since they emanate from the government. Our payroll taxes pay for these programs. Trumps actions signal to me he’d like to do away with these programs. How many Americans are willing to give up these benefits?
Radical action is extreme action and those with views far to the right or to the left may well take drastic measures to achieve their goals. I think Trump is the radical. He is a dangerous leader because he embraces right-wing groups like those that attend a Unite the Right rally. Although Trump wants his followers to believe he is the “Law and Order” President, in actuality he is the “Disorder” President embracing hate group tactics and blaming immigrants for all the current ills in American society.
Many of us start our day, confronted by the challenges of living through a pandemic, with a determination to make each day count. Instead of blaming someone else for our problems, we do the best that we can.
In some small way I’d like to help make the world a better place; but I’ve come to realize that each of us have different ideas about what that better place looks like. One person wants a world where good paying jobs are plentiful and they have plenty of leisure time to spend with their family. Another person wants a world where people are not judged by the color of their skin or the money in their bank account. Another person wants a world that puts the sanctity of unborn life above everything else.
Can we find some common ground? We’ll never know if we don’t listen to each other.