Terry H. Schwadron
Dec. 25, 2020
With the holidays in mind, let’s keep in the front of mind the fate of those people Donald Trump said he was going to protect, but seems to keep forgetting.
Trump was going to speak for the forgotten, he said, but then, too often, it has been Trump who forgot.
Instead, he has preferred to confer tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy than to extend eligibility for health care and food stamps. He has preferred to rail against immigrants for real and imagined abuses rather than to expand the lure of American citizenship; he has demeaned the value of truth and knowledge, and seen faith, education and reason as cause for cultural schism.
It is our job in this season especially to remember others as well as ourselves. That’s what mask-wearing is about, on ensuring that people have shelter, food and hope.
Throughout, Trump has kept the focus on himself, his insatiable need to demand an overturn of election results, and, until this week at least, on an agenda to tear away at government help for those in real need in a real pandemic that is taking away real livelihoods and security.
This week, only after Congress wrestled a last-minute, mammoth aid compromise to the ground did Trump start insisting that $600 stimulus/aid checks to Americans as his own administration had proposed and demanding $2,000 each was too little –-something that congressional Democrats agree with and his own Republicans do not — and threatened on Christmas Eve to leave millions of jobless Americans with no aid at all.
His last-minute threat to veto the bill now requires some Herculean political effort to fix on the fly on Monday. Yesterday’s attempts by Democrats to call Trump’s bluff with a unanimous consent vote were thwarted by Republicans in the House who immediately shot down the idea, as was theirs for cutting foreign aid to provide extra cash for citizens.
Trump’s actions in putting food, rent and jobless aid at risk for millions “are misleading and demagogic even by his usual standards,” said an editorial in The Washington Post.
It struck me that at the same time the White House was lobbying to include tax deductions for corporate lunches in this omnibus aid bill, the lines to food banks continued to snake their longer and longer lines for grocery pick-ups.
How about that for a War on Christmas?
Remembering and Vowing Better
While it may be Trump’s last Noel in the Oval Office, his long list of divisive actions has left us with lots of people for whom these four years have made lives worse.
Trump’s predictable unpredictability has lessened security of all sort, both internationally and in neighborhoods where violence is increasing. He has amplified feelings of racism and nationalism rather than seek healing.
In this year in particular, we should remember with gratitude and thanks our medical front liners, emergency personnel and the 325,000 Americans who died from a coronavirus — a number much higher than it needed to have been if Trump had acted to promote even a semblance of public health protocols over the year.
We should remember our teachers, subway and bus drivers, our meatpackers, our farmers, restaurant workers, our artists, poets, musicians, dancers and performers, our military, our journalists and writers, and all the sacrifices made to keep us healthy and fed. We should equally remember that there are police officers and protesters seeking humane communities on our streets, and that health care is supposed to mean more than finding refrigerated trucks for the amassed contagious dead.
In short, we should be using the holidays to think about others and how we treat one another. I see no reason to celebrate those among us who so insist on individual freedoms that they refuse to wear masks or take other normal public health precautions with others in mind. There are too many news items daily about the shopper who attacks a store employee who is trying solely to keep a clean, safe space for all to use.
We should ask ourselves: What do we want to tell our children and grandchildren about these times?
Let’s not look away especially in the search for happy and merry.