the coming Great Depression of the 2020s | Dear Joe Biden #06

dear joe biden:

Back in March, in the world we used to know, I said goodbye to my students at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and, like colleges and University’s all across the country, we all decamped to Zoom University for the remainder of the semester. For students studying acting, singing, and dance— social creatures all—remote learning was a difficult pill to swallow. Even so, we all comforted each other in the surety that, come September, life would be back to normal, and we’d be back in the classroom doing that thing we were born to do—and doing it among our people.

Well, it turns out that teaching and studying the performing arts amid a global Pandemic is dangerous. And so, my institution is among those who have made the financially difficult choice to go fully remote in the fall. It was the right choice, but that does not make it any less difficult for everyone. For the incoming class of 1st-year students who just endured a high school senior spring with all of the rituals and rights of passage that come with that time eliminated or drastically altered, I imagine it is particularly painful.

And so, in this episode, I want to discuss a looming national Depression of two kinds: economic as well as mental health, and imagine a path forward beyond simply defeating Trump, to punch our way out of this.

Okay, Joe, here we go—it’s mid-August, we are fastly approaching the Presidential debates and the election, Donald Trump’s disapproval numbers are rising in correlation to the rising case numbers and deaths of the Coronavirus. And to top it all off, you’ve just made a historic and meaningful choice and tapped Kamala Harris as your VP pick. 

Like you Joe, Kamala Harris is a complicated figure who has a problematic past as one who has upheld systems that need tearing down. We will have plenty of time to discuss that in future episodes. For now, let’s celebrate the fact that she will be the first black woman and first South-Asain woman to serve as Vice President of the United States. 

It’s going to be an eventful few months, but, really: in terms of the opinions of the American people who will vote, clearly, Biden-Harris is a shoo-in. 

And that means we on the left can walk and chew gum at the same time. Walking, in this metaphor, is removing the cancerous foul lump of deformity that is Donald Trump. Chewing gum is meeting this moment with a boldness and a vision required of this once in a millennia confluence of Pandemic and this economic crisis looming on generational catastrophe. Chewing Gum at this moment means remembering that the Democrats have chosen, as someone to defeat Trump, the same politician that told a group of wealthy donors that nothing will fundamentally change, if they voted for him.

To be fair, that quote was pre-Pandemic. And while the Vote for Joe, nothing will change message never rose to campaign bumper sticker swag, we wow have tens of millions of Americans looking over a Depression cliff that can take a generation to climb out of.

We don’t just need something to change, we need everything to change.

Dennis Trainor Jr
August 14, 2020