My WordPress account sends me an e-mail when I haven’t posted lately saying something like, “your friends at Project to Find America” haven’t heard from you in awhile – try posting something today.” As I read one such note this morning my wife and son were each working on their own Coronavirus journals about life in our strange new normal at home.
So here I am watching the cursor blink while I try to come up with what to say. It’s been just a little more than two weeks since I last posted on Super Tuesday but in that time it feels to me, as I’m sure it does to many others, that my whole world has changed. I’ve not posted anything in those two weeks not only because I haven’t known what to say, but because in a time when most of us are taking a much harder look at our mortality than we usually do, I wasn’t sure that if COVID-19 came for me that I would want the last thing I wrote about to be on the subject of politics.
Yet here I am, realizing for myself what I have been saying about this site since I launched it eight months ago – it is not about politics, it is about policy and while I am very hopeful and confident that, although I have a cold, this will not be the last thing I write; if somehow it were I can’t think of a better time to write it.
Neither Donald Trump nor any individual members of Congress are responsible for the spread of the Coronavirus. Even as news comes today that members on both sides of the political aisle have contracted the disease, it has become increasingly clear that, at last, we’ve found a topic that doesn’t lend itself to a political spin.
But by most accounts I’ve read, the United States has suffered from a lack of coherent national policy in responding to COVID-19 and in this, I’m afraid, we are all complicit. Our elected President has been using us vs them language since before he was in office and other politicians have willingly taken his lead calling members of the other party all kinds of names you would never call a co-worker (to their face anyway.) In the general public we have zealously bought in, firing snarky social media zingers at people that profess different views and hanging labels on them that include many different words but all end in ist. Ist bad, me good.
But that was before. By definition policy has to come from people agreeing to do something… together. Amid all the rancor, the President and Congress have begun to take action. Together, many of us are doing what we can to stop the spread of the virus. If there is a silver lining to this crisis, which has already brought heartbreak to many people and will continue to bring it to so many more around the world, it is that you see phrases like we’re all in this together written out much more frequently than we would have two weeks ago.
It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic and I don’t know what’s coming in the news tomorrow, let alone next month. Tomorrow’s shoe that drops may be even worse than today’s and shoes seem likely to be dropping for many days to come. But I am hopeful (this by the way is a word my family might us to describe me in a not-always-complimentary way.) I am hopeful that when we emerge from this crisis we will emerge reunited toward the common purpose of progress, of making our country and our world safer, happier and healthier with a better understanding of how all of our best interests as global citizens are inextricably entwined. I also hope we are reunited in this country in understanding the fundamental role our federal government has to play in enabling progress and the character attributes our representatives will need to have in order to play that role.
Amid this new reality there are some changes coming in the days ahead to this site. 435 Voices will be restarting in early April with a new focus toward progress we’ve achieved and progress we need to drive. Stay tuned!