We tell kids to tell the truth, but we don’t expect honesty from our leaders. Lying has become a way of life in this country … so much so that we don’t expect anything else from our leaders.
President Donald Trump lied to us about Covid-19 and his administration prevented the U.S. Post Office from mailing masks to every household in the United States in April and now the virus has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lied to us about the standard that chamber would apply to confirming a president’s Supreme Court nominee in an election year and now the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could be filled just days before the general election.
Those are life-and-death, society-changing lies. And we’re kind just rolling with it. We’ve reached the point in the black hole of untruths that we chalk up these lies to some kind of preordained outcome, like “Oh, of course he’s doing that.” Like we shouldn’t feel betrayed or mad or sad. After all, with a slogan like “F*ck your feelings,” we know the Trump campaign (and administration) doesn’t care.
I saw that slogan on a truck recently (and a bumper sticker and a shirt) and it’s like this country wants to continue to be punched in the face for another four years. How many rounds of “Thank you sir! May I have another?!” can a country endure?
We deserve better. We deserve leaders who are honest and inspiring. We deserve a country made up of people who care about each other. At the very least, we deserve to go into a burrito joint for carryout and not have a panic attack because some guy won’t put a mask over his nose and mouth.
Nearly six months ago, I wrote about the way it felt to face this pandemic that had many of us under “Safer at Home” orders. As a long-time runner, it felt like I could apply a lot of lessons I had learned about running hard and long to this situation.
It was entirely too early for that comparison.
Now, I think, is the time when it’s more fair to make running analogies. Now is the time when we’ve got to make good decisions so we can eventually see the finish line and feel the emotions that come with crossing it. Now is when we’ve got to block out all those people shouting: “You’re almost there!” Spoiler alert: We’re not. Cases continue to spike and hospitals are seeing big increases in patients with Covid-19 and people aren’t doing what it takes to stay safe.
Good choices in the world of the novel coronavirus are different from the running one (masks and social distance in one and a steady pace in the other), but the core is the same. In both situations, you’ve got to take stock of the field and risk factors and decide whether it’s time to hang back or push forward.
While running has coaches, Covid-19 life has scientists. We’ve got to listen to them. Much like the Trump campaign, science doesn’t care about your feelings. It doesn’t come with silver linings and it’s not fast and it’s definitely not easy. It requires work and study among scientists as they’re still learning about this virus and, ultimately, how to protect humanity from it.
Among the most important ingredients to the dish we’re creating right now to get through this period together? Patience. And that’s a little scary because it’s not among the virtues baked into the DNA of many Americans. But it’s not impossible; we’ve just got to be honest about where we are and where we’ve got to go to help everyone.
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.