It didn’t have to be like this. 300,000 dead and climbing every day. An economy brought to a slow bleed and an uncertain future. Vaccines that will sit in warehouses for want of a distribution structure. Make no mistake: if Pittsburgh had been wiped off the map by a terrorist attack or stray North Korean missile, we would be on a wartime footing that would make September 11 look like a garden party. Instead, we’ve lost the same number of people to a virus, and half the country is still shrugging and saying “it’s just like the flu” and wailing about their freedom.
I don’t make the September 11 comparison idly. I’ve said it before, but had the shoe been on the other foot, I don’t trust that the GOP would have rallied behind Al Gore. I know for a fact that they wouldn’t have rallied behind Barack Obama, and I expect scorched earth from January 3 onward. The plague that’s killing Americans isn’t coronavirus – we had a coronavirus pandemic threat in 2009 and it was controlled; MERS and SARS and other animal-originating respiratory ailments never struck the United States like this, and we didn’t have vaccines for them. The plague that’s killing Americans in 2020 is stupid-worship. Fox News, the Southen Baptist Convention, Facebook, AM talk radio, the Wall Street Journal – a decade of validating the worship of stupidity as the only truly American viewpoint has made it impossible to have cohesive government action.
If everyone had been made to shelter in place for six weeks in March, with masks sent to every household and $5000 in stimulus money for every taxpayer who made less than $100K last year, this could have been mostly behind us by May. But it was always somebody else’s problem right up until it wasn’t, and a cohort of Americans conditioned for years – for decades, really – that they don’t have to care about other people promptly did what they wanted. Which is asinine. It’s like a zombie apocalypse – you can’t reason with the virus, you can’t negotiate with it, you can’t own it online and chortle at those stupid libs. It. Does. Not. Care. It will keep coming until you or it are dead. And useful idiots from Washington DC to Sturgis, SD to Orlando, FL colluded unwittingly to give it what it wanted. And now here we are.
The lesson of the plague year is that you can’t wait for your problems to go away. If you want a better life, if you want a future, you have to take action. And keep taking action. It wasn’t enough to elect Joe Biden, you have to do it in such a way as to frustrate the aims of the ratfuckers who will try to overturn it. And then you have to turn out the vote in Georgia in hopes of preventing the Senate becoming the graveyard. And then, and then, and then. One foot in front of the other, forever, accepting that there will never be a day when the lion lies down with the lamb and we ain’t gonna study war no more. Not in this life.
And that’s the other bit, the hard bit. You have to protect yourself from the virus by creating conditions where it can’t get to you. Masking, hand washing, constant vigilance. So too with that other virus. You have to put the stupid-worship where it can’t get at the vulnerable, where it can’t infect and spread. Until we have a vaccine for it, it must be contained – actively, transitively, and relentlessly, until we have a cure or it dies out for want of hosts. Call it what it is and fight it. Heal it where you can, quarantine it where you can’t, but you can’t give up and you can’t give in.
Because we’re all going to die if we do.