As I’ve noted before, I have exactly zero uncertainty about who I’m voting for this year. There really isn’t even a choice to be made, as far as I’m concerned, and I find it difficult to believe anyone out there still believes there is. But just in case there is someone who hasn’t made up their mind yet, and assuming that person somehow stumbles across my little corner of the internet, I’d like to share John Scalzi’s recent suggestion that we ought to apply the question Ronald Reagan asked the electorate way back in 1980 to our current situation: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” (To which my pop-culture-saturated brain immediately conjures up the flinty voice of Clint Eastwood for an addendum: “Well, are you… punk?!” Which, if you remember anything at all about the Reagan era, is not an unreasonable thing to think of.) Anyhow, this is John’s reply to that question, and I couldn’t have said it any better myself:
Four years ago, I could leave my house without wearing a mask (I mean, I guess I could leave the house without one, if I was an asshole who didn’t care about the health and safety of others as well as myself, but I’m not, so I wear a mask).
Four years ago I could go to a restaurant or see a movie or go to a party or get on a plane without worrying about possibly contracting a disease that could put me on a respirator, kill me or give me serious, chronic, long-term health issues.
Four years ago I didn’t worry about sending my kid to school.
Four years ago I didn’t have family and friends who had to choose between exposing themselves to a disease that could kill or seriously debilitate them, or being able to pay rent or buy medications.
Four years ago I had a federal government that actually had a well-thought out plan for dealing with highly-infectious, potentially pandemic-level diseases like the one we’re currently living through.
Four years ago I could trust the information from the CDC (and NOAA, while we’re at it) to represent the best available scientific information, not the information that was deemed the least damaging to the president, according to political apparatchiks installed into those organizations by the White House.
Four years ago I didn’t have a president who lied about the severity of a pandemic to the public while privately acknowledging that severity.
Four years ago tens of thousands of people more than there should have been weren’t dead, and even more sick, of a disease that they might have avoided if accurate information and a well-formulated plan had been offered at the federal level. These numbers include people I know and care about.
Four years ago there were far more countries I could travel to with an American passport than ones I could not, including the one directly north of us.
Four years ago, I could go to conventions and have book tours to promote my work and to make connections with business associates.
Four years ago I could get nearly any kind of soda I wanted in an aluminum can.
Four years ago there were no shortages of basic home necessities.
Four years ago I did not have a president who championed white supremacy and conspiracy theories over science and the well-being of all Americans.
Four years ago I didn’t worry whether my vote, or the votes of family members and friends, would be counted fairly and accurately.
Four years ago my health insurance cost less and covered more.
Four years ago I didn’t think about whether my mail would be sent or arrive in a timely manner.
Four years ago I had a president who hadn’t insulted the work and sacrifice of service members, who include both friends and family members.
Four years ago I didn’t worry whether my access to the services and function of the federal government, in an emergency or at all other times, would be contingent upon whether the president had decided someone in my state state was his friend or his foe, or had flattered him enough that he felt inclined to do the job that he was in fact required to do, by law and by the Constitution.
So, no. I’m not better off today than I was four years ago. I am in fact rather worse off: I have a little bit more money, at the expense of an actual, functioning country and society. This is not a good exchange. I will vote accordingly.
I know a lot of people are unhappy with the thought of a Biden presidency for various reasons, but four more years of this… chaos… won’t do any good for anyone who actually works for a living.