Dear Mr. President,
I was sitting under the slow drip of an IV bag last weekend, wondering if you and I had that in common at that very moment — a reminder that our bodies aren’t fit enough to have our veins filled only by our blood.
It’s a particularly uncomfortable time to have less-than-perfect health. In all honesty, I’ve been really scared. And during your stay at Walter Reed Medical Center for COVID-19 treatment I wondered if we shared that, too — a fear as visceral as the moment sterile metal meets skin.
The truth is, we’re both quite fortunate.
Like you, Mr. President, I pay less into our country’s system of support than I get out of it.
That’s not to say I avoid dutifully investing all that’s asked of me as a person working in the United States. I evade no tax. I’m just privileged to work at a research university with a world-class medical center that provides health benefits which allow me to access high-quality care while only incurring a fraction of the cost.
You have that same luxury.
But our experience trusting “the system” (be it health care or otherwise) to work in our favor is not common enough, and you’re actively working to make it even less so.
While you got pumped full of antiviral drugs to combat a virus you’ve repeatedly minimized to the detriment of hundreds of thousands, I fueled up with my bimonthly meds that effectively suppress my immune system.
It’s never been a stress-free treatment for me, but during this pandemic, it’s particularly chilling. Sometimes the fear is nearly paralyzing.
I wanted your fear to be that extreme, too. I’m not necessarily proud of that, but I did. Maybe I just wanted it to be life-changing for you.
Because to live in the United States right now is to live with some amount of near-constant fear. Whether the threat is a virus, the loss of freedom, a weak economy, worsening natural disasters, police violence, discrimination, access to health care or something else — our sense of safety is eroding.
And with all you have been able to buy your way into and out of, I wondered if being scared for your health would allow you this most American experience in ways nothing else has or could: wondering if you’re going to survive.
In reaction to such intense fear, I wanted you to work to protect Americans. I wanted you to reflect on the terror you so purposefully stoke and the widespread damage it causes. I wanted you to question the moral cost you’re charging reasonable people to belong to the Republican Party.
I wanted you to pray you’d be different if your life was spared.
I wanted you to feel remorse.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case. You’ve shown us clearly that nothing is sacred to you. Not your life. Nor anyone else’s.
It’s painful, but it gives me a weird hope.
We see you, Mr. President — even many who never thought they’d consider voting against their party — and we are tired of living afraid in the aftermath of your charade.
So it’s OK that you didn’t muster a conscience, sir, because you’re inspiring the rest of us to.