Country to the north

I called an old Canadian friend of mine who lives on Prince Edward Island. It is an island province covering a small territory and possessing anything but a dense population. It has no large cities. In our conversation, he told me that he and his wife were sheltering-in-place, which prompted me to ask him how many cases of Covid-19 have been reported on the island. He said two so far. What I drew from his answer is that the province (and I’m sure much the same measures are in effect across Canada), thanks to their leaders, and Prime Minister Trudeau in the first place, are determined to take the necessary and preemptive measures to slow down and, as soon as possible, flatten out the growth curve of the virus’s spread.

I also couldn’t help but contrast the seriousness of purpose that frames the Canadian response with the flatfooted, inept, callous, and irresponsible response by Trump and his administration. By his actions and inactions,Trump has thrown us into harm’s way, despite the heroic efforts of governors, mayors, health care experts and providers, first responders, public sector workers, and many others.

Bear in mind

Pelosi, Schumer, and Congressional Democrats did well in fighting for a better stimulus package. And bear in mind, the balance of power in Washington isn’t in their favor. Moreover, they also had to be mindful of the desire of tens of millions to get something done, not to delay, even if it wasn’t the perfect bill.

Inescapable network of mutuality

I began reading a collection of MLK’s speeches and letters last night. I thought they might provide good therapy as well as political insights, given the times in which we live and the challenges that we face. And I had hardly turned a page when I came across this gem.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ( Letter from a Birmingham Jail.)

An immodest proposal

In “A Modest Proposal,” written in 1729, Jonathan Swift suggested that the Irish eat their children to combat famine and mass hunger. Yesterday Trump suggested that the country resume its normal activities and go back to work on Easter weekend. It would be, according to Trump, a Great Resurrection.

But here’s the difference between the two proposals. Swift was being satirical and poking fun at (or calling out) the aristocracy. Trump was dead serious. And, if taken seriously by too many people, his immodest proposal would result in real “killing fields” across our country. Older people in the first place, but younger generations as well. What Trump said wasn’t simply ill considered, it was criminal and worthy of jail time. Short of that, he should be unceremoniously evicted from the White House on Election Day this November.


A decorative facade

The embrace of a united or popular front strategy by some on the left strikes me more as decorative facade than a substantive shift in their politics. It is more rhetorical than substantive, concealing a strategic orientation that still pivots around class against class. But the latter is precisely the wrong strategy at this moment. In fact, nothing good will come from it. If this approach were to capture the thinking and shape the actions of a significant number of people it could greatly weaken the effort to win back the presidency and the Senate in this fall’s election. But so far it hasn’t. Tens of millions of voters have embraced a far more expansive strategy in the face of the existential danger of Trump’s reelection. And I don’t expect to change.

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