So often, we hear that our leaders should put partisanship aside and “get something done”. I’ve never believed that was the best way. First of all, we have to decide what “things” are to be done? We decide that with debate and consensus. There is a time for partisan wrangling in American politics. The policies, and their philosophical underpinnings, are important to our national present and future. They deserve a public hearing from all sides and a chance for the public to vote for their preference. This, however, is a different time. Now, we need to demonstrate that uniquely American ability to put aside partisan leanings and simply do what is required.
My grandparents were children during the Great Depression and teenagers during World War II. My father came of age during the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. In our own generation, we’ve seen recessions, mass tragedies, the 9/11 attacks, a housing and banking crisis, and other social disruptions. This one can be the same…a “disruption”. One thing we’ve learned through our history is that delayed action deepens crises. It is encouraging to see action being taken.
It should give every American hope that the leaders of both parties in the House and Senate are moving at what Senator Mitch McConnell called “warp speed” to pass an economic stimulus package, and the President stands ready to sign it. McConnell’s fellow Kentuckian, Senator Rand Paul, is attempting to amend the package for being “too expensive”. Someone should tell Senator Paul that the price of doing nothing or doing too little, is far greater. Now is not the time to argue economic philosophy. Action must be taken now to ensure that the disruption of the Coronavirus is minimized. The faster we act, and the more we prepare, the better we’ll be in the long run.
American politics will go on. We already see that. Some believe that the President’s initial downplaying of the threat posed by this virus slowed American reaction and will cause greater harm…and there will be time to debate that. Some believe that 24-hour press coverage has been exaggerated, causing more panic than preparation…and there will be time to debate that.
In the current situation, we need every person collecting a paycheck in Washington doing what is necessary to protect paychecks in the rest of America. We need businesses, especially small businesses, buttressed and individuals protected. We need as many testing kits as possible, more ICU beds, more ventilators, and continued work towards a future vaccine.
And we, as citizens, need to continue to follow the protocols of “social distancing” to mitigate the virus’ spread. We have faced dangerous threats before. While this threat is of a different variety, we can determine by our actions, at least in part, how long it lasts and how bad it gets.
When I used to ask my grandparents what it was like during the Great Depression, my grandfather thought that was a silly question. “What do you mean ‘What was it like?” he would say. “We just did what had to be done every day.” I miss him.
Stay safe out there.
Jeremy Jeffcoat is an Alexander City resident and former candidate for Alabama House District 81.