the strangeness of it
sits with me. long after you
left. warm hand on cheek.

Honestly, I don’t get it. How did we get here? I had planned on writing this blog post the day after the election, no matter who won. But then we fell into this purgatory of election results, and then I caught Covid, and now I’m deeply confused. I don’t think it’s Covid brain. How did we get into a place where unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud can convince the vast majority of Republicans that Trump won the election, “by a lot?”

I thought I understood conservatism. I didn’t necessarily agree with it, but it made logical sense. It was built on the idea that a country should undertake change slowly — that America was a prosperous country as it was, with opportunity for those who worked hard, and that America served as a shining example of democracy and freedom and capitalism, and that those things can raise an entire world to be more prosperous and peaceful.

That felt right in a way — it still feels right in a way. And it allows for debate about what equality of opportunity really means, or what groups might be left out, and how we can address that inequity. It welcomed debate about how to enable people to work harder, arm them with an education and attune our culture to hold onto the values that allowed for America to prosper. …

I remember when I first told my freshman year roommate that I was an athesist. He blinked twice. I don’t imagine he expected someone to say something like that at the Catholic college we both attended.

He was a product of Catholic schools his whole life, and I remember his casual shrug. Instead of being annoyed or upset, he was curious, and he asked why.

Over the course of many conversations, I found myself being gently persuaded — to admit that I didn’t understand a lot of the universe, and even to find that the things I didn’t understand were some of the most beautiful in life. …

It’s not everyday that you hear a president castigating a mayor, but here we are in Trump’s America.

It’s not all the time that a group of heavily armed men storm into protests, but here we are in Trump’s America.

Doublespeak, 17 year olds with assault rifles, boogie men, boogaloos, and patriots support the tyrants here in Trump’s America.

Race riots, millions unemployed, fake news, broken values, stirring the pot and getting stronger through hate, here in Trump’s America.

Disrespect, casting blame, no values and nothing to own, not here in Trump’s America.

We’ve got enough, but far too little, and we’re trying hard to destroy ourselves in Trump’s America. …

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Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, oil on canvas, September — December, 1830 (exhibited and purchased by the state from the Salon of 1831) 2.6 x 3.25m (Louvre, Paris)

Thomas Jefferson said, “Every generation needs a new revolution.” But what happens when a culture becomes so splintered that generations are experiencing not just one but multiple revolutions? How does the culture sort itself out?

Well, welcome to 2020.

There are a few trends emerging that place us at the cross-roads of massive cultural change.

First, the obvious, it’s an election year. 2020 has been one of the most insane years that I can recall, with a global pandemic, racial protests, and millions of people unemployed. This year, it seems, so much has come to a head. And, in the United States, it seems like presidential elections are litmus tests for the very soul of the country. Who we elect tells us something about ourselves. …

So when you’re asked to fight a war that’s over nothing
It’s best to join the side that’s gonna win
— Bright Eyes, Road to Joy

Have you heard of Jordan Peterson? I certainly hadn’t. Then a friend of a friend on a politically oriented string of texts referenced him as someone whose voice was being silenced by “cancel culture.”

Imagine my surprise then when I looked up this professor from the University of Toronto to discover that he had millions of followers on YouTube and Twitter. …

America is on fire. The global pandemic has killed more than 100,000 Americans and put more than 40 million out of work. Brutality against Black Americans has emerged from Georgia, Minnesota and elsewhere, in videos that show the banality of American racism — the complete disregard for Black lives. And, somehow, instead of having a real conversation about solutions to our structural problems, improving our criminal justice and education systems, our government is pumping trillions of dollars into backstopping corporate America, “indefinitely,” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promises that the next stimulus bill will the last.

This is America in 2020. …

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What do you get when you take two political parties, eager to fight about anything in the news, a pandemic and a president desperate to hinge his reelection on economic vitality? Well, you get America in 2020.

And, somehow, we find ourselves in the grips of a very real paradox — where people are first forced into lockdown to help save lives, then, because of the lockdown find themselves in the very real position of economic collapse.

So, let’s recap the facts:

  • Flattening the curve is an attempt to keep from overwhelming our health care system, but it doesn’t necessarily avoid the total number of people who would get the disease. This helps save lives. The policies in place, the so-called “Great Lockdown,” are designed to help save lives by limiting the number of cases at any one time. …


A.M. Wilson

Author of Populace; former journalist, farmer, librarian, burger flipper, bagboy, groundskeeper, political organizer, and shill.

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