2020 has been an awful year, not least because years are arbitrary divisions of passing time, so there’s no guarantee the awfulness will end just because the year has. Nevertheless, I learned some important lessons this year. In the interest of brevity, I’m going to boil it down to just three main points: One about the pandemic, one about Trump, and one about myself.
The Pandemic: Jaws 2020
I like the movie Jaws, but I always thought Mayor Vaughn’s obstinate refusal to close the beaches in the face of multiple shark attacks was a ridiculous plot contrivance. 2020 has made me rethink that assessment. If anything, the mayor’s response was understated. If we remade Jaws for 2020, it would include:
- Mayor Vaughn, who still refuses to close the beach because it will ruin the tourist season.
- The town business owners who agree with him and keep letting people on the beaches even after the sheriff closes them.
- People who argue that just because some victims died “with shark bite” doesn’t mean the shark killed them.
- Other people who argue that the shark has only attacked young women and children, so it’s okay to let men and older women use the beaches.
- An economics/business pundit arguing that the shark only eats one person every other day, and the economic hardships from closing the beaches will kill more people than that.
- People who call anyone who won’t swim in the ocean a coward.
- Boaters who chum the waters with bloody fish parts to prove the shark isn’t real.
I hope the parallels are obvious. I’m very sad about our utter failure to rally our resources to handle this disaster.
The Trump Lesson
When 2020 started, I actually didn’t think the Trump administration had been as bad as I had feared it could be. I’ve never been a fan of Trump’s policies (such as they are) toward immigration and trade, and I thought he was doing a lot of damage in those areas. I also didn’t care for what I’ll call his style of governing — loud, lying, and selfish. Despite all that, however, he hadn’t left quite the trail of destruction I was expecting.
Then came the Covid-19 pandemic, probably the worst disaster to befall the United States since World War II. Trump tried to downplay the epidemic, he ignored much of the pandemic playbook, he undermined local government health departments, and he interfered with public health measures such as masking and testing. Trump isn’t responsible for all 350,000 deaths from Covid-19, but he’s damned sure responsible for a lot of them.
2020 also included the protests and rioting that followed the death of George Floyd. Trump fanned the flames of discord and then took the opportunity to try to turn the Department of Homeland Security into some kind of federal police force. Finally, ever since he lost the 2020 election, Trump has been fighting a traitorous battle to subvert our democracy and overturn the outcome of the election.
Now this was a trail of destruction. In 2020, Trump brought us more discord, sedition, and death than I would have thought possible.
A Personal Revelation
The year 2020 has definitively proven that I do not have the superpower ability to kill someone by hating them with my brain.
No matter how hard I try.
I don’t know if we’ll have a Happy New Year, but fuck this shitty old year.