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Shit Bowl Country

I will contradict myself numerous times in this piece.

My thoughts/words will appear disjointed. Simple explanation: I’m jumpy, fragmented. I am both frightened and fearless.

I go out for a run, wearing a mask correctly, not as a wristlet or a neck warmer. I yell at people who either don’t have a mask or are wearing it inappropriately, hanging from an ear or down, just under the mouth.

A year ago, a cop pulled up beside me as I ran near the curb. “Run on the sidewalk, not the street.” Was I breaking the law? I asked and he said yes. A few days later, same cop, same warning. He told me if he saw me in the street again, I’d receive a fine. Now, during this pandemic, I jay-run, moving into and crossing the street, to avoid someone in violation of the mask mandate. And if that cop who said the fine would be “more than I’d want to pay, at least $200” stopped me, I’d insist he mask up. A few days ago, I saw six cops on motorcycles—huge bikes, intimidating noise polluters, wide open throttles. HYUDDEN, HYUDDEN, HYUDDEN. Machines whose broad backs are decorated with American flags flapping exceptionalism.

I need to hear my children’s voices. I need to talk with my grandchildren. I need the Sisterhood. Daily routine. I call or text to see if everything’s okay. Nothing’s okay. How selfish. I’m fortunate, should feel grateful. And then all the imaginings: to be blind during a pandemic. To be deaf during a pandemic. To live in a war zone, to be a refugee, to have lost everything………. during this pandemic.

To have a president who ought to be charged with murder for his denial of the seriousness of this pandemic. To have a president who legitimates violence against anyone he perceives to be HIS personal enemy.

We have two options: encroaching fascism and return-to-status quo neoliberalism. Please don’t email and tell me to vote for Howie Hawkins. Try, here, to understand the conflict posed by living in a contested state.

For some years, I wrote that voting is consent to corruption. That voting is consent to a system of injustice. I still believe this however I cannot endure four more years of Donald Trump’s malignant narcissism, distortions, lies.

They lie. They all lie. They’re narcissistic. Obama said he was pretty good at killing. He wasn’t just pretty good, he was exceptional—the Droner-in-Chief.

Yet, Trump. Is. Worse. He’s a psycho.

You say you identify as a progressive and that’s why you’re supporting Biden. You identify as a progressive and you are thrilled Biden chose Harris as his running mate. You say you identify as a progressive and you’re swooning over Obama’s convention speech. (Note that smooth orators drop a tear as effortlessly as actors cry.)

You believe Biden’s a decent person. You’re not a progressive. You’re a liberal. And you either are unaware of the brutality of US domestic and foreign policy under Democratic leadership or you believe that pretty words make the medicine taste better. You identify as a progressive but by backing Biden you are supporting racism. Please don’t email and ask why. Do your research to review Biden’s record on mass incarceration and as a war-adorer. Recall that as Obama’s running mate, he said “You don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist.” And during this pandemic, when the USA’s brutal healthcare system has been exposed, Biden still refuses to support Single Payer/Medicare for All.

I’m voting for Biden. There, I’ve said it. I’m voting for Biden and I feel shitty about this decision.

In late July, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner and co-chair of Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign said this about the choice between Trump and Biden: “It’s like saying to somebody, ‘you have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.’ It’s still shit.”

More recently to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Turner said: “Understand very clearly that we have two dragons that we have to slay; we’ve got to slay the dragon of neofascism and we’ve got to slay the dragon of neoliberalism.”

I change my mind several times a day. I think about the story Biden told when his wife Neilia and baby daughter were killed in a 1972 car accident involving a tractor-trailer driven by Curtis Dunn. Biden embellished, saying Dunn was drunk. Dunn hadn’t been drinking, had the right of way, and exited his truck to provide assistance to Biden’s family. Even as late as 2007, Biden was saying that his wife’s car was broadsided by a drunk driver. The lie destroyed Dunn. According to his daughter, Pam Hamill, her father “was haunted and tormented…”

What brand of character flaw does this expose?

Is this flaw, along with many exposed Biden evils, the lesser evil? Lesser than the Trump evil? Will a Biden presidency delay fascism? I can’t vote for Biden. I will vote for Biden. How can I vote for Joe Biden? I have to vote for Biden.

Chris Hedges said: “Trump inherited the system; Biden was its architect.”

I will go to the precinct and participate in early voting. I will agonize over this. I will agonize prior to participating in this assault on my conscience. I will agonize afterwards. I despise Joe Biden but I choose to eat less shit, even though it is still shit, rather than eat the entire bowl of shit.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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