We’ve let a horrible year go to waste

It seems like more people have more Christmas decorations up this year, as if they are trying desperately to lighten the mood of an utterly foul year, in which we have been beset by a pandemic that Donald Trump tried to minimize[1] but is afflicting more people than ever and overwhelming more hospitals than ever,[2] in which Trump lost an election but is desperately attempting to overturn the results,[3] and the Black Lives Matter movement which seemed to hold such promise[4] has simply sputtered out.

As I see the decorations, I’m feeling, more than I think I ever have, a dissonance: The snow we got early this month has all but melted away, a reminder that even after we get through the pandemic, the election aftermath, and endless police killings of Blacks, the climate crisis still looms. There should be snow on the ground. There isn’t. California shouldn’t be burning like it is. But it is. We shouldn’t have so many hurricanes. But we do.

And it’s the lack of snow that’s getting to me. Those decorations cry for it.

It’s been a disillusioning year. We can no longer seriously pretend we have a functional government[5] as people face hunger[6] and homelessness[7] because they have lost their jobs in a pandemic that shouldn’t have been nearly as bad as it is. We can no longer seriously believe that the United States is, in fact, united.[8] And we should certainly put to bed any notion we are a post-racial society.

That could actually be good news. We can’t address problems if we deny they exist. But whatever lessons we may have learned are pointless if we don’t put them into action. And I don’t see us putting them into action. Which is to say we’ve suffered a horrible year for nothing.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “On wishing the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief well,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/03/on-wishing-the-delusional-raging-narcissist-in-chief-well/
  2. [2]Lenny Bernstein, “With hospitals slammed by covid-19, doctors and nurses plead for action by governors,” Washington Post, December 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/doctors-demand-covid-restrictions/2020/12/03/88c1afc6-34e1-11eb-8d38-6aea1adb3839_story.html; Antonia Noori Farzan et al. “U.S. surpasses 64,000 new coronavirus infections two days in a row for first time since late July,” Washington Post, October 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/16/coronavirus-covid-live-updates-us/; Elliot Hannon, “Trump Says “We’re Rounding the Turn” the Same Day the U.S. Approaches Record Number of New Coronavirus Cases,” Slate, October 23, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/10/u-s-record-coronavirus-single-day-cases-trump-debate-declares-country-rounding-the-turn.html; Karen Kaplan, “U.S. deaths are about 300,000 higher than expected since the coronavirus arrived,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-10-20/excess-deaths-in-united-states-since-coronavirus-arrived; Hannah Knowles and Jacqueline Dupree, “Full hospitals, talk of rationing care: New wave of coronavirus cases strains resources,” Washington Post, October 25, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/10/25/coronavirus-cases-hospitalizations-surge/; Betsy McKay and Erin Ailworth, “Covid Is Resurging, and This Time It’s Everywhere,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-covid-surge-u-s-restrictions-11605466754; Derek Thompson, “The COVID-19 Fall Surge Is Here. We Can Stop It,” Atlantic, October 12, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/how-keep-fall-surge-becoming-winter-catastrophe/616674/; William Wan and Jacqueline Dupree, “America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began,” Washington Post, October 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/23/covid-us-spike-cases/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 10, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Time for somebody and something new,” Not Housebroken, July 27, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/27/time-for-somebody-and-something-new/
  5. [5]Paul Kane, “Congress deeply unpopular again as gridlock on coronavirus relief has real-life consequences,” Washington Post, August 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/congress-deeply-unpopular-again-as-gridlock-on-coronavirus-relief-has-real-life-consequences/2020/07/31/6d2f10c4-d36a-11ea-8c55-61e7fa5e82ab_story.html
  6. [6]Abha Bhattarai and Hannah Denham, “Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic,” Washington Post, December 10, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/10/pandemic-shoplifting-hunger/
  7. [7]Kriston Capps, “Landlords Challenge U.S. Eviction Ban and Continue to Oust Renters,” CityLab, October 22, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-22/landlords-launch-legal-attack-on-cdc-eviction-ban; Michelle Conlin and Christopher Walljasper, “Time’s up: After a reprieve, a wave of evictions expected across U.S.,” Reuters, October 19, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-housing-eviction-insight/times-up-after-a-reprieve-a-wave-of-evictions-expected-across-u-s-idUKKBN27415U; Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/; Gretchen Morgenson, “Large corporate landlords have filed 10,000 eviction actions in five states since September,” NBC News, October 26, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/large-corporate-landlords-have-filed-10-000-eviction-actions-five-n1244711; Will Parker, “Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis,” Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/struggling-rental-market-could-usher-in-next-american-housing-crisis-11603791000; Kyle Swenson, “Renters thought a CDC order protected them from eviction. Then landlords found loopholes,” Washington Post, October 27, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/10/27/trump-cdc-eviction-moratorium-loopholes/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “On ‘Unity Over Division,’” Not Housebroken, October 8, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/08/on-unity-over-division/