This country recently reached yet another grim milestone: 180,000 COVID-19 deaths. Almost every day, at least a thousand Americans die of the virus. Millions more struggle with the financial impacts of the recession it’s caused. After Senate Republicans allowed the $600 in enhanced unemployment benefits to expire, more of our neighbors are struggling to pay bills, make rent, and keep the water and lights on.
For 16 weeks now, the Senate has failed to take up the HEROES Act, comprehensive COVID-19 relief legislation that would keep money in families’ pockets, offer rent relief, prevent utility shutoffs, and preserved jobs at small businesses. The $300 a week the Trump administration borrowed from FEMA just isn’t keeping families afloat.
Of course, our country isn’t facing just one crisis. It keeps reaching ugly new climate milestones, too: Hottest temperature ever recorded on earth, a record-breaking hurricane season, historically large wildfires. It’s been much, much longer than 16 weeks since Senate Republicans supported legislation that would address the root causes of climate change (though they’ve had no problem with making it worse).
In their response to both crises, Senate Republicans are practicing what writer Alex Steffen calls “a politics of predatory delay.” They agree that the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession are problems. (They’ll even sometimes admit that climate change is real). They just refuse to act like the death and suffering these crises cause is their problem. As The Washington Post reported in July, “White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day.”
Their plan was not to have a plan — to delay, deny, and obfuscate in hopes that these problems would somehow “go away by summer.” By now it’s clear that no number of needless deaths or lost homes will make Senate Republicans or the Trump administration take responsibility for these crises. They are simply seeking to make us numb to the suffering and deaths they cause.
It’s no coincidence that both crises disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Through their predatory delay, Senate Republicans and the Trump administration are reinforcing the deeply racist and abhorrent idea that some lives don’t matter.
We have to resist these attempts to make suffering and injustice seem inevitable, even normal. One of the best ways to do so is by sharing our stories — by putting a human face to the statistics and milestones that we use to measure these crises. By talking about how the COVID pandemic, the economic recession, the climate crisis, and racial injustice have impacted our lives, we remind politicians that real people bear the consequences of their predatory delay and their failure to act.
Click here to write a personal message about why you need your senators to address these crises. Make sure they know: We are the people you were elected to serve. And we need you to do your job.