With climate change looming and 800,000 COVID-19 deaths, I ask, “How is that working for you?”
In January, Foreign Policy published a piece by Noah Berlatsky questioning if the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response constituted a crime against humanity. Nearly one year later, the administration has changed, but the health crisis hasn’t.
Under the Biden administration, with 59% of the U.S. fully vaccinated, deaths continue to mount. According to The Washington Post, Biden has presided over 353,000 deaths to Trump’s 425,000. Saving lives from the pandemic evidently wasn’t on the ballot in November. If our leaders, political system and economic system fail us at the cost of our lives, we must organize for change through political activism.
The U.S.’s handling of COVID-19 is a deadly form of class oppression. Since the onset of the pandemic, the government has asked its working class to prioritize “reopening the economy” over saving lives… their own lives. Texas Lt. Gov. even insinuated that the elderly should be willing to sacrifice themselves for the economy. Did you ever have a choice?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been politicized to such an extent that it’s nearly impossible to have a meaningful conversation about why 800,000 U.S. residents and counting are dead. We’ve witnessed misinformation warfare that utilized pseudoscience and absolute falsehoods to mislead broad swathes of the population. It’s incredibly difficult to reflect on the U.S. handling, or lack thereof, without echoing a hyper-partisan sentiment.
The U.S. leads the world in total coronavirus cases, total new cases, total deaths and total new deaths, and it’s in the top 20 for cases per 1 million people. Despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, the U.S. is nowhere close to leading the world in vaccination rates. When it comes to protecting its own citizens, the U.S. is definitively not the greatest country in the world.
What did we expect from a country that spent the last two decades sending its children to fight in endless wars? The U.S. would rather suppress Black protesters with state violence than face its racist Colonial heritage, and it leads the world in emissions per capita as climate change rises. It certainly wouldn’t prioritize citizens’ lives over “the economy” in a pandemic.
This is the reality we face if we don’t act now. As Pericles once said, “just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”
Our system is clearly not working. I will not assert when it stopped working, or if it ever truly did, but it isn’t. To move forward, more people must become politically active at all levels of governance. If saving lives was not on the ballot in November, it’s up to us to force change through organizing our communities and workplaces.
Most U.S. citizens say the pandemic has increased divisions in this country, and I agree. The notion of working together for a positive change that benefits everyone may seem impossible. But what other choice do we have? Would you prefer to wait until this deathly system comes knocking at your door?
If our political and economic system produces leaders willing to sacrifice our communities to a virus in the name of profit, we must organize our communities for change. If you are not politically active, you have delegated that responsibility to others. With climate change looming and 800,000 COVID-19 deaths, I ask, “How is that working for you?”