Celebrations in a Pandemic

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On the morning of Saturday, Nov. 7, four days after the 2020 election, most major media outlets named Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. Following an incredibly stressful four days as Biden slowly made progress in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin as mail-in ballots were counted, the election was finally over. 

The relief felt among many people was palpable. Around the country, people took to the streets to celebrate the victory or, slightly more important, Trump’s loss. Here in Connecticut, an already planned Count Every Vote rally at the capitol felt more like a party, since counting every vote is apparently not a political statement and not just how democracy works and so mostly everyone there was a Democrat.  

It is of little surprise that people are so visibly joyful at Trump’s failure to be re-elected; this is a president who will probably go down as the most divisive and harmful in history.  It is difficult to fathom being so universally hated at your job that people are holding rallies in the street in joy that you are not going to have that job in two months, but that is what Trump experienced last week. 

There’s one slight issue with the events of last weekend, though; we are still in the middle of a devastating pandemic spiking in almost every state including Connecticut, which had been doing relatively well until the last few months. How does one balance the sheer relief of knowing that a racist, homophobic, misogynistic president who has indirectly led to the deaths of over 200,000 Americans due to his refusal to appropriately respond to a pandemic is now going to be out of a job with the fact that we are still in a pandemic?  

“There’s one slight issue with the events of last weekend, though; we are still in the middle of a devastating pandemic.”

That’s not an easy question. Too much of the left, or just of “not Trump” people, have a severe case of crisis fatigue after spending four years with non-stop horrible things happening with relatively minimal power to stop them from happening. Just this year we’ve had a pandemic, wildfires taking over Australia and a large part of the west coast, Black people being murdered by police, police using harmful methods to deter protestors, an economic catastrophe resulting in millions of people out of work and murder hornets. And those are far from the only disasters that have taken place so far this year.  

 While the palpable relief is more than reasonable, it is still the midst of a deadly pandemic. Celebrating in large groups, being in large groups in general, is far from a brilliant idea in this current health climate. We don’t yet know what effect these rallies will have; in the past, spikes have tended to occur two weeks after an event and it has only been just over one.  

Even if there is a spike it will be difficult to determine what to attribute it to; Trump supporters were also having large rallies last week, though theirs tended to have less celebratory tones and less mask wearing. Beyond that, the pandemic was already spiking, so it might be difficult to see in a week if there was a spike as a result of these rallies.  

Looking beyond the potential health ramifications of the last two weeks, there are also the societal ramifications. Too many people have spent the last week and a half trying to argue that it’s in poor taste for people to be overjoyed about the results of the election or to even gloat a bit about it. Gloating is typically not a great sign for the type of unification that President-Elect Joe Biden seems to be going for.  

At the same time, it’s a needed break. That crisis fatigue is a real issue and a win is something that non-Trump supporters have needed for four years. People should be allowed to take a moment, a second, a day, to feel as if something good has happened. Donald Trump will not be president in two months and for people of color, women, queer people, immigrants — at this point really everyone — that is a good thing. That is something worth celebrating safely before people get back to the work of trying to combat the many issues our country is facing.  

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