It is nearly impossible to avoid thinking about power during an election year. Politicians with varying degrees of talent engage in years of pageantry as they try to convince the most people that they are the best candidate to assume the American presidency. They try to convince us that they can use the power of that position appropriately. And when they are elected, we hope they can fulfill at least some of the promises they make. We hold this hope despite an abundance of evidence that none of those promises will be kept.
We live in a democracy or, at least, that is what we tell ourselves. In a democracy, we have the power of our vote. We are individuals, but we have a say in who represents us at the city, state, and national levels. It’s hard, however, to believe in the power of the vote when a presidential candidate wins the most votes but still loses the election. It is hard to believe in the power of the vote, when time and again, a singular demographic is elevated to the detriment of far better candidates.
As 2020 began, the election was all anyone was talking about because so much is at stake in November. Donald Trump serving a second term is not a viable option even though it is improbably likely. And then a pandemic reshaped our lives in an instant. One university closed and then all of the universities closed. Schools moved online. People began tele-commuting when it was at all possible. All of a sudden, the election didn’t seem to matter while also mattering more than ever.
One day life was normal and the very next, people throughout the world were isolated, worried about everything, watching the news, trying to stay safe, trying to stay healthy. We have no real sense of when we will be able to return to the rhythms of our regular lives. There is a danger out there and it is one we cannot see or smell, taste or touch. We are utterly powerless and vulnerable and terrified together but apart.
For the past few weeks, there has been a tightness in my chest, fingers grasping at my throat. It is a terrible sensation that rarely goes away. I try to organize my worries and fears into those that are manageable…