Wake up — the country needs you

Emily DiSalvo, Arts & Life Editor

I have only been alive for 20 years, but I think most adults would agree that this is the most anxiety-producing and consequential time in American history. Stress, tension and sleeplessness are normal side effects of a deteriorating democracy, a massive death count and uncertainty about the future. If you aren’t feeling the gravity of this moment, wake up from your blissful ignorance.

Design by Mike Clement

This moment, this election, this year will affect the rest of your life in this country and on this planet, and if you choose to remain aloof, your fate will be decided without your input. It is in your and our nation’s best interest for you to get informed and take action.

In this moment, we realize that the past several generations have taken for granted the effectiveness of our system and the series of government officials that for the most part, followed norms and laws. President Richard Nixon broke the law. It was shocking and unfortunate, but when the impeachment process went through, he was universally condemned, and he stepped down. The system worked.

The system deteriorated a bit during the presidency of George W. Bush when he acted like he had evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction to help justify a war with Iraq. The fact that no one was able to step in and be a check on this decision is frightening, but America has always been eager to intervene elsewhere, especially after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

To try to compare these flaws in the political system to the utter capitulation of justice, values and decency that has occurred since 2016, is like comparing a counterfeit $20 bill to a murder. Don’t even try.

Since Donald Trump became president, the justice department is politicized to the point where the Attorney General OF THE UNITED STATES serves as his personal lawyer. The man running the post office is actively working toward its demise under Trump’s direction right before an election in which the mail is crucial to receiving ballots. Trump is holding massive, packed, indoor rallies at a time when teachers and students are fearing for their lives every day as they go to school in pursuit of an education during a pandemic. They are scared to hold hands, to sing and to be kids.

The Republican-held Senate is rushing to appoint a Supreme Court Justice just weeks away from an election after previously saying in 2016 that eight months was too soon. Trump admitted this, according to the New York Times, was because he would need a conservative court to help him, assuming the election became disputed. The very fact that many assume that Election Day and the days and weeks after are going to be disputed and caustic perfectly exemplifies the departure from norms. Trump has yet to confirm that he will leave office peacefully if he loses. Yes, one could argue that a pandemic is an extenuating circumstance. But a president who sees the pandemic, sees the science and decides to withhold the life-saving information costing over 200,000 lives and counting is not extenuating. It’s neglect.

In a moment when a woman is killed as she sleeps in her home by police and only one of the three officers is charged — not with murder but for firing into the neighbor’s apartments — is a moment when all lives are not treated equally and the very institutions that are supposed to protect us are murdering us in our sleep.

This is a moment when a giant climate clock boasts a countdown to the end of the world in America’s largest city as Trump continues to roll back regulations that would protect the environment and buy us more time. Do we want more time on this planet where a man can be suffocated for being Black but a white man convicted of rape can walk free? On this planet where a rapist and a friend of rapists can be president? Where women’s reproductive organs can be stolen from their bodies by the government without consent? Where the people who call themselves pro-life continually support death? Who are we? Can we fix it? Is there a clock like the one in New York counting down the minutes inside of our heads until the damage done to our country and our world cannot be fixed? Where the systems cannot be repaired?

I’m supposed to be focusing on classes and student organizations and washing my hands but instead, I am wondering if the damage Trump has wreaked on America can really be fixed. Is this who we really are? I have heard that the Obama presidency was emblematic of who America wanted to be and the Trump presidency is who we really are. Is this us?

It’s not me. I’m going to vote for Joe Biden. He’s a little too hawkish for me, his healthcare plan a little incomplete, his vision for America a little moderate. But for crying out loud, he believes in science! He respects immigrants. He looks at racial justice protests and doesn’t see violence worth showering in tear gas. He sees hope for change.

If you are sleeping right now, wake up. Breonna Taylor never got the chance.

Do something. Read an article. Write one. Get informed. Get angry. This is not OK. Don’t continue on with your life because your life isn’t going to be OK if Trump is reelected this November. Wake up.