There’s no sugarcoating 2020, but there are signs of hope in the year ahead.
We have vaccines. And we’ll soon have a new president. Now, it’s time to pull together to address the issues of the year we leave behind — to slow the devastation of COVID-19, restore faith in our democracy, confront climate change and address the nation’s economic and racial inequities.
But we can only do that if Californians and Americans can put their partisan differences aside and work for a common good. It’s up to us.
On the pandemic, we need national and state leadership driven by sound policy, not politics. At the same time, we must recognize that with each passing day new knowledge is gained about the novel coronavirus — meaning that any response will be imperfect.
It’s time to stop arguing over whether masks, social distancing and shelter orders are effective in slowing the spread of the disease. They are. But while the shutdowns are necessary, we cannot ignore the economic devastation to those who have lost their jobs or the educational and emotional damage to our children forced to attend virtual classes.
We must do our part to reduce the risk for our essential workers, whether they’re on the hospital frontlines or stocking the grocery shelves. And we must be mindful that our actions affect the lives of the elderly in nursing homes and the incarcerated in our prisons and jails.
Our democracy survived the 2020 presidential election — no thanks to the incumbent. Let’s uphold the system we’ve had for more than two centuries rather than trying to undermine it for partisan advantage.
If there’s a legitimate voting problem, let’s fix it. But let’s stop this nonsense about widespread voter fraud. Since Election Day, courts across the country have repeatedly rejected such claims. And Georgia just put them to a test. An audit of over 15,000 random voter signatures didn’t find a single fraudulent absentee ballot.
While the pandemic seems daunting, we’re watching a far-larger natural calamity unfold: climate change. There is no vaccine for it. We know what we need to do — and stop doing: Reduce carbon dioxide emissions, stop burning coal, shift away from gas-powered vehicles, move quickly to renewable energy.
Yes, there will be economic dislocation. But the solution is to embrace the jobs of the future rather than lament the loss of those that are destroying our planet. It’s the sort of challenge we can meet. We’ve done it before in times of war.
As we embark on this change, we must not forget those who are less fortunate. The homeless among us are some of the starkest examples, but disparities present with many other issues such as educational opportunities, personal wealth accumulation and police encounters.
We’re far from the nation of equal economic opportunity and devoid of racial discrimination we should strive to be. As we’ve learned from the pandemic, many of us are living from one paycheck to the next. And the color of our skin affects the likelihood we’ll be personally afflicted by the deadly virus. We can change that — but that first requires everyone to acknowledge the problem.
2020 has taught us a lot about ourselves, individually and as a society. As we look to the new year, we should ask ourselves how we can put that knowledge to use to help meet the challenges ahead.