Last week, I put up a post seeking to explain some of the thinking around supporting Trump and offering suggestions on how to have a decent Thanksgiving even if you’re stuck with Trumpists at the table (or, worse, if you’re the only sane one present at your celebration.)
I stand by the thoughts in that post, despite the continued rantings and terrible moves by the squatting President. He has committed further offenses over the past seven days, with the latest being his pardon of Flynn, a likely payoff to try to avoid details of Trump’s Russian activity from exposure, only the most recent. Give him a few hours, he’ll do something else outrageous.
The time to assess damages, however, is not when you’re in the middle of the storm. You predict beforehand and attempt to minimize the opportunities for damage and you take stock of them afterward and try to enact repairs. During the storm, you make the emergency repairs that are possible and wait for the end.
The end is coming. Trump, for all that his actions loom large in the public awareness, is going away. His influence has already greatly diminished, and his authority will be gone on January 21. If anyone doubts this, look at the attendance of the spectacle arranged by his lawyers yesterday. Three months ago he still would have had such a meeting – Trump has no shame, that’s been demonstrated – and almost every Republican member of the Pennsylvania Congress would have been present; it would also have been held at their Capitol building. His boosters are still vocal and their actions are insane, but they are losing their numbers on the fringes.
This, of course, is driving the true believers to double down, making them even crazier than ever. And some of these are the people you’re likely to be seeing over Zoom or, in some instances, across the table today.
They’re going to be desperate for a fight, because right now that’s all they have left. As their hope diminishes, they replace it with aggression and their hope is, when they stop yelling for a moment and think (something they’re not wont to do), almost nonexistent…. and that’s still more hope than any rational person would have in their situation.
In light of this, why should you let them rant and rave? Two reasons:
First, nothing they say matters, unless they threaten violence. They’ve lost. Their screams and demands amount to nothing more than the unbelieving howls of a fan whose team has just lost a sports game. The scores are in the record books, and it’s over… no matter how much they may whine about the officiating, the game is over. You’ve won. Enjoy it.
Second, and far more important: Black Friday.
Under normal circumstances, Black Friday indicates the date when most stores run massive pre-Christmas sales. According to myth, it’s when stores go “in the black” and turn a profit for the year… which is silly when you consider that operating costs vary greatly for different business models, but has a grain of truth to it in that operating costs can be quite high compared to eventual consumer prices.
This year, Black Friday has another meaning: the day when we are expected to have the greatest number of active cases of COVID-19 throughout the country, many of whom won’t even realize they are sick.
Airline companies have had to add flights to accommodate all of the travelers. That means people stuck in planes for hours, even though we have learned, months ago, that being in a small enclosed place with someone contagious is an excellent way to contract the disease… and anything less than an N-95 and eye protection is inadequate for multi-hour exposure. There are going to be family gatherings with people who don’t know they’re sick, spreading it to those who don’t yet believe it’s a true concern. All of this, while hospitals throughout the country are full.
There are going to be small spreader events throughout the nation today. Not every one, not by far… but plenty of them. They will occur predominantly among those who claim “hoac”, but far from exclusively among them. I can attest to that on a personal level; there will be people out there like my wife’s mother, a lifelong Democrat who told her that she didn’t have to worry about getting the virus because Biden had been elected, and who previously insisted that Biden had been in no danger during the debate because he believed in science (the fact that he wasn’t wearing his mask while in the debate with a contagious imbecile doesn’t get through.) There will be people like my nephew’s ex, who posted pictures to Facebook of the birthday party for her four-year-old child… complete with a bunch of other kids and their parents, none masked… from last week in New Jersey. The “hoax” people lead the way, by far, in their stupidity regarding the disease, but they’re far from alone.
That means there is going to be a spike of illness, and following that, a spike of deaths. We’re looking at record death numbers already, on almost a daily basis. We’re losing almost as many lives per day as we lost during 9/11, and the scope of damage is just being ignored.
And, just like the Trump storm, there’s very little we can do about the COVID-19 storm until we’re through it. We can fix the issues that crop up in our lives and affect those closest to us, and that’s all. With luck we can avoid it personally or at least not die or suffer permanent injury from it. That’s the extent of our contribution.
The result is that, when we sit down to our zoom chats with family members, we have to recognize that there’s a much greater than normal chance that this is the last Thanksgiving we’ll ever have with them. No, they’re not certain to die over the course of the next few months… but particularly among those denying the severity of the plague, the odds are much greater than they would otherwise be.
If you shared loving memories with them, or of former friends, this is the time to turn the other cheek. After all, as mentioned above, you’ve already won and they’ve already lost. They’re angry, they’re hurtful, and in many cases they’re also insane. But some will be balancing their desire for a fight with a desire for some stability… and maybe – sadly, only maybe – you’ll be able to get through a meal without conflict breaking out.
If they survive the upcoming months, great. You’ll have your chance to talk some sanity into them after the inauguration. I have suggestions on how to do that, as do others… with all of those suggestions, mileage may vary. But if they end their lives struggling to breathe before a vaccine comes around, at least you’ll have some good memories from the last five years.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Sorry to be a downer. If you want, because it’s uplifting… feel encouraged to post an upbeat or hopeful song.