By default, today’s American Republic holds these integrated, life & death truths self-evident. No healthy economy without first a healthy people. No solving the surging pandemic without solving surging embedded inequalities that super-spread it. No doing a root canal on “Truth Decay” without first healing civic culture organically and holistically starting from the bottom-up to reach broadest based societal consensus on grounded facts and data versus opinions and theories.
The opposite of what occurred with California’s recently passed Proposition 22 that now legally misclassifies Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other gig economy drivers as independent contractors. This is all about denying basic formal employment protections and benefits so obviously needed for mere survival during a pandemic by selling consumer convenience as more valuable than elementary socioeconomic justice.
“Truth Decay” sets in when the profit margins of these grifter gig companies’ business models depend on mean-spirited, one-way street wages without worker recourse and when the rest of society apparently doesn’t care enough to resist. Flattening these curves begins with those at the top making millions off the “essential worker” labor of others. Another example in the process of renormalizing decency. Leadership by example from those who profess to lead others self-defines through relentless service to the greater common good.
On the opposite coast and as abused canaries in the coronavirus coal mines, the vaunted White House Secret Service trapped in its pandemic suicide mission voluntarily breathes in the biomedical bullet instead of stepping in front of it. Already one-hundred-thirty infected from their ranks and counting just for showing up and doing their job, imperfectly protecting the American people, the president and themselves to the best of their ability from an outgoing oval office super-spreader who holds no life is worth limiting any expression of personal vanity or imagined grievance.
Like a Charles Dickens Christmas ending badly with Scrooge triumphant, not repentant; partisan pretender-enablers pine to preserve political powers past, present and future for themselves, shirking any moral or constitutional obligation to save and defend American lives at greatest risk. Conscience-free commoditizing of any inhabitant, supporter, or opponent, without remorse, regret, memory, mention or even second thoughts becomes standard political and economic fare. Verified systemic facts are not the coin of this realm.
Exhibit one: on November 12th, the country’s Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) Executive Committee of the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair, National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), Escambia County (Florida) Supervisor of Elections, and the members of the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council (SCC issued a joint statement confirming, “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history… There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
No effect on last weekend’s twenty-thousand strong, MAGA-march on Washington refusing to believe or concede, purportedly representing over seventy-two million Americans who voted for the losing side. Back to a future where the original, unreconstructed “Lost Cause” Confederacy after the Army of Northern Virginia’s surrender (April 9th, 1865, Appomattox Court House) shape-shifts into permanent conspiracy theory rebellion. Those who are willing to apply the words of John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address (January 20, 1961) to a post-truth country and “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe”, deny full spectrum societal costs from unlimited pandemic American deaths and functional breakdown.
Similar to Lincoln’s assassinated Reconstruction hopes in 1865, President-elect Biden’s call one-hundred-fifty-five years later to “restore the soul of the nation” achieves lift-off only by physically and civically recalibrating a resentful “America First” demi-republic. No longer a city on the hill but one on respirator in overfilled emergency rooms and hospital beds, visibly and painfully in full debate over what it stands for, under whose or any god, clearly divided and without relative equal liberty or justice, including basic healthcare, by voter-suppressed design, for a rising mosaic majority of its citizens.
How this nation so reconceived in cultural mistrust can equally and concurrently distribute a universally available, affordable, and effective vaccine to all Americans prioritizing those at highest risk will become the overriding defining metaphor for “Building Back Fairer”. A performative, operationally imperative baseline like no other in our collective lifetimes.
No trickle-down, pay-to-play, Blue against Red state, urban against rural tactics allowed. No corporatist and corporate personhood welfare addicts gaining access to inner decision-making sanctums. No “winners take all”, “I did it all myself” swagger pitting frontline underserved communities against flush wallet-voter zip codes. No secret handshake VIP lines or power-privileged downloads.
It’s become a given that this country convincingly and willingly lies to itself enabled by social media algorithmic tentacles wrapped like Virginia Creepers choking binary culture roots grown far too deep to exchange zero-sum division and subtraction for synergistic addition and multiplication successfully without divine intervention. E Pluribus Unum has stagnated into a Gordon Gecko moral subjectivism framing a country where anything goes to anyone who grabs, especially stars chasing a political firmament that is voter suppressed and gerrymander-designed to dominate and perpetuate.
Caught in a values vacuum, cultural hypocrisy like self-satisfied pilot fish willingly rides shotgun on the pandemic killer whale despite severe thematic disconnects. For example, America’s enduring “Pledge of Allegiance” was composed by a socialist minister, Francis Bellamy (August 1892). Sixty-two years later, another American President also hoping to heal the nation (Eisenhower 1954) added the “under God” provision to ward off Soviet Russia and Red China Cold War communism.
Agreeing to a standard definition of “Under God” while under a pandemic becomes increasingly problematic. Apocalypse and revelation prove interchangeable with operating table bloodied hands and unable to breathe victim hordes defeated by a biomedical scourge accelerating the reaping of what is sowed. Some opportunistic Christian evangelicals seeing the “Texas hold ‘em” handwriting on church credibility walls have started to call the cards, opening community temple doors a notch for further shepherding of constituency flocks.
Divine intervention conviction grows that it’s getting harder to pray away Biblical plagues visiting their wrath upon an America self-trapped in lost way idolatry: sequential and high-impact Gulf Coast hurricanes, West Coast fires, COVID-19 burying its way across the heartland, and QAnon conspiracy theories challenging fundamentalist religion’s spiritual hold on crossover followers. The Old Testament formula of an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth until everyone is sightless and gumming their way through existence doesn’t sell in a majority Protestant and Catholic New Testament America where individual consumption accounts for 70% of GNP and 49% of those fortunate to still be hired receive employer-sponsored health insurance.
Biblical Old Testament chapters (7 through 11 in the book of Exodus) describe ten plagues “water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the killing of firstborn children”. Eerily similar, America’s decaying civic ethos algae, partisan euphoria bacteria deforming constitutional checks and balances and greed/fear-infested fungus invade a failing culture unwilling to align on basic truths and outsourcing its stakeholder rights and community conscience to monopoly social media platforms.
All is not yet full stop doom and gloom. Georgia who gave the nation Martin Luther King, the fifth congressional district represented by John Robert Lewis for thirty-three years, and forty-three years ago the previous one-term presidency of Jimmy Carter, can still halt the decapacitating and decomposing of America for two surging reasons.
First because Georgia commands total electorate and media attention leading to both U.S. Senate seats plunged into run-off on January 5th, 2021, itself an historic achievement in a state where yesterday’s Republican faith is fast becoming tomorrow’s heresy. Similar in federal tone to the mounting fratricide between an eventual exiting White House and hitherto unquestioning Fox Cable News amen corner, Georgia’s beleaguered Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, was moved to refute “baseless accusations” of voter and ballot fraud advanced by members of his own political party.
Second, this could be part of the promised revelation bending the political universe’s moral arc towards righteousness. From the centerpiece of Nixon’s southern strategy to Stacy Abrams’ rising democratic plurality, Georgia has both ripped apart America’s socioeconomic flesh, sinews and nerve ends and now has begun to heal them. The spirit of a still living, transforming and uncorruptible Jimmy Carter who came back from electoral defeat to become the most globally respected, morally revered, values-driven post-president in United States history after George Washington, summons a future defined by former President Barack Obama’s yearning for America’s “common baseline of fact and a common story”.
Since 2016, Putin has been so justifiably proud of his spycraft handiwork, keeping score by remote control on how his toadies leech, divide and defeat America to spike its COVID-19 body count. So, apparently, has the Devil which is why it is possible to believe that the country’s midnight train to Georgia next January portends the better angels of apocalyptic, liberation and patriotic justice coming home to roost.