Today is One Boston day, the seventh anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, when the Tsarnaev brothers set off two crude pressure cooker bombs that resulted in three deaths, wounded hundreds of others and sheared off limbs brutally and indiscriminately. The terrorist attack bloodied one of Boston’s most iconic events and shattered our sense of security. Yet what we also remember today is the courage of our first responders, the generosity of strangers, and the resilience we demonstrated, both individually and as a community. Mayor Marty Walsh today captured that spirit empathetically.
The COVID-19 pandemic is another such opportunity. While we are consumed with rage at the man whose name I refuse to speak today, and others who enable him, part of remembering our own essence is to clasp to ourselves signs of hope.
Tears came to my eyes when the results of the recent Wisconsin primary race for a state Supreme Court seat were announced. The liberal challenger, Judge Jill Karofsky, convincingly defeated incumbent Justice Dan Kelly, appointed by Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2016. The last time a liberal had unseated an incumbent in a state known recently for obscene gerrymandering and voter suppression was in 2008. Last week’s outcome was only the second such upset in more than half a century.
The Republicans, against all common sense given the public health crisis, had maneuvered to block the postponement of the election because they thought the in-person vote as scheduled would depress turnout in favor of the GOP. The tactic was blessed by conservative majorities on both the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. As an elated Wisconsin friend of mine noted, after years of suffering under the influence of arch-conservative Governor Scott Walker, “despite our pandemic election, misplaced absentee ballots, and massively shuttered polling sites, voters spoke and dealt a real blow for truth.” A glimmer of hope for the whole country? Perhaps. But it will take a lot of work.
Another reason for hope, though more ephemeral given Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s iron grasp over the U.S. Senate, Senator Ed Markey is putting forth a legislative proposal to prevent the dismissal of Dr. Anthony Fauci for political reasons. That evil man, whom I refuse to name in this posting, all the while protesting he isn’t planning to dismiss the highly respected head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease division, re-posted a tweet labeled #FireFauci. If the Markey proposal passes, the firing of any head of NIH center or institute could only be for malfeasance, neglect of office, or incapacity of the director. Fauci has been nothing less than heroic in guiding the Coronavirus Task Force through the thicket of White House submission to one person’s selfish interests, despite the overwhelming evidence of science-based public health expertise.
Also cause for cheer, progressive Senators Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s endorsements of Vice President Joe Biden. This is earlier in the process than when Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016. Optimally they will stay engaged, bring their supporters along with them and squelch the toxicity of such Sanders die-hards as press secretary Briahna Joy Gray. The last thing we need is a divisive third-party candidacy like Ralph Nader in 2000 or Jill Stein in 2016. President Barack Obama’s well-crafted, full-throated endorsement was welcome but probably less significant, unless he also brings his fundraising prowess and the online skills of his organization.
Consuming the news is in my DNA. It was my profession. But I confess there are days when I want not to watch, not to listen, and just to crawl into bed, turn on the electric blanket and assume the fetal position. But I know we can’t abdicate in that way. Like many journalists, I’ve been a registered Independent most of my life and have felt comfortable voting for qualified candidates of different parties. But these are different times. If we care about the democracy that hangs in the balance, we need to do everything within our power to make sure that the incumbent and his enablers lose resoundingly on November 3 and that the damage they have done can begin to be reversed.
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