North Texas Daily

It’s okay to talk about politics during the pandemic

It’s okay to talk about politics during the pandemic

It’s okay to talk about politics during the pandemic
April 23
12:00 2020

With COVID-19 disrupting all aspects of everyday life, the constant political coverage of the past few years has somewhat ceased, though not under ideal circumstances. But while it might be stress-inducing to talk politics in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, ignoring the impact that COVID-19 has had on the political sphere would be a mistake.

If anything, issues such as healthcare and minimum wage have only become more topical in the age of COVID-19. Healthcare availability is largely dictated by income and has proven disastrous for low-income earners, many of whom are now considered essential employees. The people supplying the public with vital resources are still only being paid minimum wage is an issue in need of immediate rectification, not only for the sake of the workers, but for the safety of the public. While celebrities are using their considerable influence and wealth to access immediate testing, people who interact with an infectious, vulnerable public on a regular basis are working grueling hours at great personal risk. When also taking into account the recent surge of layoffs, it’s understandable that some feel a reevaluation of the relationship between healthcare and income is in order.

These two interlocking components also affect, and are affected by, the issue of racial discrimination. Systemic racism has deprived predominantly black communities of the resources required to combat COVID-19 and media outlets that report a high number of African American casualties without directly addressing this risk is contributing to the marginalization of this demographic. It is incredibly irresponsible to imply that black people are more susceptible to the virus by virtue of genetics as opposed to gentrification. Enforcement of segregation through the prison-industrial complex also puts African Americans at a disadvantage, as it is notably difficult to social distance while incarcerated.

Issues our country contended with prior to this outbreak have not retired themselves for the sake of convenience either. Migrant children are also being incarcerated at staggering rates, despite their age and subsequent vulnerability. There are still 40,000 migrants in over 200 centers across the country, according to ICE is outright refusing to emend it’s usual practices in spite of the risks now associated with shepherding a significant number of people into a confined area, endangering people who came to this country seeking sanctuary and all but flaunting its own genocidal tendencies.

The interconnected nature of these issues illustrates the importance of continuing to talk politics during the pandemic. COVID-19 has exacerbated problems that already existed, and if anything is to be gained from this prolonged tragedy, it’s knowledge. Even discounting a lack of preparedness on the part of the federal government, every facet of this outbreak, at least as it pertains to our own country, is inherently political.

America is not known for learning from its mistakes. A series of mass shootings in recent years failed to yield counteractive legislation and debates regarding healthcare rage on without really gaining a significant amount of traction. Police brutality against people of color has all but subsided and mass incarceration prevails. If there is ever a time to reevaluate our priorities, it is now with all of our country’s weaknesses spotlighted by an international crisis. We need policies in place that prevent the possibility of future outbreaks and we need politicians that will enforce said policies. We need to reevaluate our usual definition of “essential” and act accordingly. We need change.

Putting America on a pedestal isn’t doing anyone any good. Progress cannot occur without change, and since the most recent changes have left America in turmoil, let’s work on making some positive ones.

Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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