Where are the adults?

Sure, John Bolton can go ahead and write about “The Room Where It Happened,” but goddamn it, guys. Where are the adults in the room?

Adults, I think, are those who make challenging decisions, say difficult things and take uncomfortable actions that are aimed at helping others. Adulting, as the kids say, is hard work. Rosa Parks was an adult. Ida B. Wells was an adult. Austin Channing Brown is an adult. Ashley Judd is an adult. Nothing about what they did, or what they are doing, is easy, but the results of their words and their actions are geared toward helping out and lifting up.

I’d like to know: Where are the adults in the United States in 2020? Where are those who respect science, understand leadership and just give a shit about other people?

They don’t appear to be in the White House. Adults, after all, wouldn’t schedule campaign rallies for thousands of people during a global pandemic caused by a new virus that can be easily spread by coughing, sneezing or just talking. And they definitely wouldn’t hold it indoors in cities and states with increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases … right?

Adults also don’t seem to be among those who continue to support this president. They may look like adults, but -- based on the crowd of about 6,000 who turned out to that rally on Saturday night in Tulsa -- they don’t sound like adults and they don’t act like them.

They whine about wearing masks while wrapping themselves in the sacrifices made by the Greatest Generation, which is being killed by Covid-19. They complain about long lines for takeout while insisting that we need to “Make America Great Again.” And they hate that we’re still talking about really basic stuff like Black Lives Matter. No, these are not adults.

This country is the house that capitalism built and right now it feels like the homeowners don’t give a shit about anybody. They think everyone has the same opportunities. The same life experiences. The same path to success. Can’t make life work? That’s your fault, they would say.

Over my adult life, these are the people who have told me to “Stay in my lane,” and have asked me, “Why are you so political?” They’ve called me “passionate” for advocating gender equality. They have called me the c-word for writing a newspaper column about my experience telling a man that he could not say the n-word.

Maybe part of the reason Covid-19 has infected 2.3 million people and killed more than 120,000 in the United States is because we’ve wrongly been waiting for the adults to eventually show up. After all, the thinking goes, if we just sit down, mind our business and just keep it down, the adults, our leaders, will do the right thing and we’ll be alright.

But the adults aren’t in charge. Instead, we’ve got a babysitter who is too vain to wear a mask and is more interested in talking about his ability to drink water with one hand and oddly explaining why it’s hard to walk down a ramp than making sure people are safe.

Now is the time to remember that we are the adults. We’re the ones who need to do the hard things right now. We need to be patient. We need to wear masks and avoid crowds. We need to wash our hands. We need to stay six feet away from people. We need to speak out and stand up against systemic racial injustice. We need to vote.

Amy Bailey was a member of the Michigan Capitol Press Corps from 2000-2006. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, son and an easily excitable Australian Shepherd named Max. Amy's guest column, Something to Say, publishes periodically. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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