I’m writing to you on Jan. 20, 2021, just a few hours before our new president and vice president are sworn in. I’m excited about this because I was absolutely NOT HAPPY with our previous administration, led by him-who-must-not-be-named, but I’m also feeling anxious. I am so nervous that the incoming administration will be loved in a “thank God that’s over” way, and they’ll be able to get away with not doing much to improve the lives of those of us in the United States. My life—and that of so many others in my same economic situation—has gotten harder in the last four years, and I’ve kind of lost my faith in “the system.” I also worry about the losing side acting out violently, either today or in the future. This anxiety is actually hitting me really hard.
My fellow American,
I think we can be cautiously optimistic about Biden’s inauguration attracting violence because, according to several news outlets, Washington D.C. is pretty much impenetrable right now as a result of the attempted coup on Jan. 6. Airbnb accepted no bookings for Inauguration Day in the D.C. metro area, and apparently two of the National Guard members removed from inauguration duty were dismissed because of “inappropriate comments and texts” that I can only assume smacked of insurrectionist leanings. I have way too much life experience to ever put all of my eggs in one basket, but I have a sense that lots of caution has been taken to ensure that today’s inauguration will be as peaceful as possible. [Editor’s note: It was.] It’s kind of a shame that Biden and Harris won’t get the welcoming experience and public celebration that (almost) every new president should experience on their first day in office but, personally, I’d happily trade a crowded National Mall in exchange for never thinking of or seeing the previous president ever again for the rest of my poor, Black, queer and radical life.
Biden and Harris will have lots of work to do to repair the damage that the previous administration has done to Americans and to our international reputation as a superpower—we look like idiots on the world stage—and while there’s been plenty of centrist gum-flapping about “healing” and “moving on,” I think that the American public has made it clear to the incoming administration and to lawmakers in general that we expect people to experience consequences for seditious behavior and, also, that we want the most nonsensical and vindictive of you-know-who’s actions undone as quickly as possible. We should expect to be rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, and we can also kiss that Muslim travel ban goodbye. Whatever the 1776 Commission was will also be kicking rocks. I mean—wow—we really dealt with four whole years of this, didn’t we?
Your anxiety is completely justified, especially after the riot on the 6th. I think we’re all a bit appalled at self-described patriots storming a government building with bear mace and flex cuffs, stealing and vandalizing with the backing of elected officials, but was anyone truly surprised? Anyone who was truly blindsided by the events of Jan. 6 probably needed a wakeup call to the realities of extremism in America, not to mention to the way the previous administration coddled and encouraged a very divisive worldview. You can combat your anxiety by taking comfort in the fact that DJT is no longer the president of the United States, and that the incoming administration is already being spurred on by people who want to see consequences for the damage done by DJT and his ilk.
Personally, I love seeing pushback to talk of “healing,” because it’s clear that some expect the marginalized to forgive and forget as usual, but not today. People have to understand that you can’t nurse racism and foment a literal overthrow of the government without any consequences. We can’t heal by pretending we were never injured. I don’t have tons of faith in the system, either, but I do have faith in angry voters holding the feet of their lawmakers to the fire. We have to demand justice just as loudly as we demand liberty and equity.
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