There are two reasons I was relieved that Biden-Harris won the recent election. First, Black people (and Native people, and Latinx people) expressed how dangerous it felt to have the demagogue with bad hair urging violence against them by his disaffected white supremacist followers. (The fact that two architects of the carceral state and the ultra racist “war on drugs” represent relief for BIPOC is emblematic of the catastrophic racism foundational to our way of life in the USA. Not to mention the warmongering against brown people around the planet.)
The second reason I was relieved is that I am anticipating the end of headlines like this one from yesterday:
At this point you may be wondering,
What do Maine’s COVID-19 transmission rates have to do with who’s in the White House?
Thinking about the campaign that just concluded, I am remembering several photographs and headlines:
Mills ‘disappointed’ coronavirus guidelines weren’t followed at Pence rally
Hundreds gathered in Hermon on Monday for a ‘MAGA’ rally hosted by VP Mike Pence; Gov. Mills said she was “disappointed” and “saddened” by what she saw at the rally.
AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Gov. Janet Mills voiced her disappointment of the Vice President over the “Make America Great Again!” rally in Hermon earlier this week, where hundreds—many not wearing masks—gathered for the outdoor rally.
At the Maine CDC coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, Mills said she was “disappointed” and “saddened” by what she saw at the rally—large crowds, little to no social distancing, and scant mask-wearing among attendees.
One rally causing that much of an uptick in COVID cases three weeks later? Hard to believe.
But of course it wasn’t just one rally. Multiple rallies for GOP candidates in places other than Hermon like Bangor, Saco, Levant, etc. saw crowds gathering from around the state, unmasked, and not socially distancing. Most of the rallies were to secure that one electoral college vote from Maine’s 2nd district. They succeeded, but was the price for the people of Maine worth it?
Academic research has demonstrated that nations with authoritarian oligarchic governments, like the US, Russia and Brazil, have failed miserably at containing the pandemic. Meanwhile countries led by socially-minded governments like New Zealand, Australia, and China have done best.
Maine is still full of people defiantly unmasked despite the governor’s executive orders intended to keep more of us healthy and alive. I’m home in the 2nd district now that my own campaign has ended, and I don’t dare go into the local store or post office.
I’m not overly optimistic about the new regime’s ability to get a raging pandemic under control because they are deeply committed to keeping the profit motive in our failed system of health care. Only people can change that, probably by mounting a general strike until they get universal health care like Medicare for All.
In the meantime, I believe epidemiologists. I’m willing to wear a mask, cancel social events, and take extra precautions because I want to live to see my grandchildren grow and thrive. Don’t you?