I get it. Or at least I think I do. I used to work for the federal government, and then I studied it for years. And let me tell you: you are not wrong. The shit is toxic. In my years working and studying it, I saw people support developments that might result in plane crashes because of campaign donations. I saw white people use unions that were made up mostly people of color for battles that had nothing to do with them. I saw academics say they wanted to do voter suppression experiments. One time, someone got yelled at for getting cancer during an election season.
It’s tempting, given all this, to want to sit it out. But we can’t. Not this time.
This is a picture of me at my dad’s gravesite. Last week, I got to see it for the first time since he died, six months ago.
I will never know why my dad died, whether it was from COVID. I will never know this because the Trump administration took pleasure in its belligerent approach to dismantling the federal government, and the CDC and other federal bureaucracies that were usually tasked with this sort of thing were forced to sit on their hands. What this meant is that the state and city governments – which usually look to the federal government for guidance – were forced to make their own decisions without having any plans, and none of these decisions matched each other. What this meant is that the state told my family we had to get him a posthumous COVID test or potentially face legal action, and the city told us we under no circumstances could have one. What this meant was the care facility where he died did all they could to make us go away, because they were scared of liability, rather than try to help us get what we needed. What this meant was that all the patients and staff at the care facility wouldn’t know if my dad died of COVID, if the outbreak that had started there was worsening or getting better. What this meant was that I would never, not ever, get a test, and I would never, not ever, know what exactly killed him. What this meant is that instead of grieving, I have spent the last six months fighting.
Trump does not, in fact, understand what a deep state is, and so he goes around destroying everyone who annoys him by calling them the deep state, even – maybe especially – who are doing important civic functions.
You do not want to be me. If Trump has four more years in office, so many of you who don’t often think about the positive things the government sometimes does will be me. It might not be my exact situation. It might not be COVID. But you will have the government fail you, and it will be personal, and it will hurt, and you will be in my shoes.
I know there are millions who have been hurt for centuries, who the government almost never works for, and who the government actively works against. I know I am late to the party here, that I am one of the comfortable who is waking up late. But I also know there are millions of comfortable people like me who don’t get it, not yet, who are oblivious and only hear about the bad stuff, so they figure they should write off all the government. So if you’re thinking of washing your hands of it, if you’re thinking of sitting it out or voting third party because you figure the whole damned thing is broken anyway, it probably means you have not been hurt yet, at least not seriously, that in some ways much the government is likely still working for you, and you just don’t know it.
You do not want to have my kind of experience (and if you have, then likely, you already get it). If you want to prevent that, if you want someone who will not destroy government’s basic protective functions and who might actually expand it to protect more people than it did before, then please, for the love of God, vote for Biden, and stand up for the election if and when Trump tries to invalidate it.