It’s fitting I think that we are unable to celebrate Independence Day this year in ways we would usually, and that doing so would put our lives and the lives of everyone else at risk. The universe is telling us something.
There is nothing to celebrate this year.
No matter how many of America’s Karens come out in their cheap Made In China patriotic motif shirts and wipe their mouths with the Stars and Bars while complaining about athletes “disrespecting the flag,” America is not in a place to celebrate anything at the moment.
Perhaps never in our post-Civil War history has America had less to be proud of. We are the pariahs of the world, banned from traveling overseas, our land borders with Canada and Mexico closed.
While most of the world has brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control, the United States continues to post over 50,000 new cases a day. The situation in the South and West is exploding, and here in New York, nearly everyone is concerned about, perhaps resigned to, a second wave.
Meanwhile, our president is holding rallies around the country, rejecting health experts’ suggestions on how to reduce the threat; wearing masks and social distancing; and, ripe with delusion, predicting the virus would just “go away,” like he did five months ago, when it didn’t go away.
Hospitals in Houston, Miami and Phoenix are overflowing, replicating the problems that plagued New York City just a few months ago. We still have massive unemployment and because of our ridiculous system or tying healthcare to jobs, millions have lost their healthcare coverage because they cannot, out of concern for public safety, do the very think we require them to do in order to see a doctor – work. And as states register five-digit daily increase in cases, we can’t even convince a third of this country to put on a damn mask.
Meanwhile, this summer started with another brutal reminder that the promise of our nation has yet to be fulfilled. The nation watch George Floyd die under the knee of a cop who should have been fired years ago. What followed was weeks of outrage, which featured even more examples of police abusing their powers and attacking people of color.
Perhaps never in our post-Civil War history has America had less to be proud of.
And here we are, on our nation’s 244th birthday, with a government that has abdicated its responsibility to protect Americans in order to kick off Season Four of its pathetic reality show that even Bravo! would have cancelled years ago. And our last, best hope out of this mess? A 78-year old former Vice President who has been in government since my parents were in elementary school.
And maybe Biden will lead us out of it. Maybe we’ll get a COVID vaccine within a year, pass strong criminal justice reform legislation, strengthen our healthcare system and move away from tying it to employment, and move further to being a more perfect union.
And maybe the next Fourth of July will be one we can actually feel good about celebrating.
In the meantime, there will be fireworks and BBQs, and many of them will just make a bad situation even worse, and for the next six months at least, we’re stuck in a deadly cycle of virus, poverty and outrage that historians will one day study as a nadir of American history.