By Vincent L. Hall
2020 started before it even started. Months before its arrival, personal and corporate plans were laid out like a Sunday suit on Saturday night. We were just itching for church service to begin. Every passage of scripture with the word vision was surveyed. 2020 was declared the shiznit before it even started. A wise preacher once said that God laughs at our plans. He must have. In January, most of our troubles were far away. The Australian Brushfires scorched a patch of land the size of Cuba. 18.6 million hectares, whatever that is, burned. Meanwhile, Trump was relishing his assassination of Iran’s General Qassim Suleimani. Congress rushed through a bill to limit his authority after that.
The Coronavirus and the lockdowns came next. America’s biggest Ferris wheel, aka “the greatest economy in the world,” halted. No school, no restaurants, no travel, no jobs. Who knew that Democracy and materialism were just two paychecks short of bankruptcy? Twenty-two million Americans lost their jobs. That figure does not account for the children, ailing parents, and other dependents who were put at risk. Pandemic was the new buzzword by then. The concept was new to the world and the American middle class, but not for everyone. This “pandemic” thing was just the latest complication for minorities and the working poor. If they have a place to lay their heads at all, America’s homeless and underinsured living in food deserts were on display for the world to see. COVID-19 ripped the scab off the United States’ best-kept secret. America is the “home of the free” for some while millions just brave the waves and woes of poverty.
The CARES Act was introduced and passed. It helped millions of citizens, small businesses, schools, governments, and churches. Yes, churches! On its face, it was a gracious act of thoughtfulness. Nevertheless, the lobbyists won again. The big businesses fared much better than the small citizens did. Thomas Massie, a Republican congressional representative from Kentucky, threatened to derail the whole process. He pointed at the grift in that legislation. “If it were just about helping people to get more unemployment (benefits) to get through this calamity, then I could be for it, but this is $2 trillion. Divide $2 trillion by 350 million people.” His point was as stark as it was simple. Americans got $1,200 each instead of the $17,000 each they could have. Big Business is still the heavyweight champion!
Oil got so cheap in April that they would give you $37.63 to take a barrel home with you. We watched fossil fuels take a beating, and then the camera panned to George Floyd, whose beating was fatal, brutal, and consequential. Black Lives Matter garnered lots of support. Many, if not most of those protesters were sympathetic Whites, and that was a positive sign. Their involvement led to Corporate America leaning in on the side of BLM. It reminds us that Presidents and Congressional leaders do not run America. Uncle Sam is powerless to the sway of Captain Corporate. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos vs. Donald Trump, and Mitch McConnell is a mismatch at best.
We learned to work from home, worship on the web, and wash our hands after every visit to the latrine. And speaking of outhouses, Americans bared the public square just long enough to push Donald Trump out of the White House he has stained for future generations. At this writing, 315,000 people are dead, and 300,000 of them probably should not have ever even been infected. 2020 was slated as the year of vision, but we cannot wait for it to become a blur. Come on, 2021!
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and an award-winning columnist.