Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
My 2020 political diary, which I started on February 21, has now sprawled to almost 85,000 words, or the length of a typical novel. This is because much has happened.
I’m not even sure when I’ll end the thing. The day the election is called for one candidate or the other? New Years Eve? Inauguration Day, 2021? The day my mom gets the covid vaccine? Maybe events will dictate my choice, but all I know for sure is that 2020 has taught me, more than any year in my life, that assumptions of normality, safety, strength of national institutions, and freedom from the madness of crowds are false. It turns out, at this late date, that our country is really no different than any that has existed for a time on the face of the earth. All nations are run by humans, and humans are majorly screwed-up individuals. Each of us seems to have a seven-band graphic equalizer installed, set to different levels of pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth (or modern equivalents).
As 2020 has played out, our leaders have proven that what matters to them are not the much-vaunted “American values” but instead how to gain and cling to power and wealth. In the coming year we’re about to see how that all plays out in a string of Supreme Court decisions that will affect anyone and everyone in this country. (I, for one, stand to lose my health insurance.) We’re also about to see how our election system holds up to relentless, though disingenuous, attack. And we’re about to learn whether a third or more of our people are willing to use violence to achieve political goals.
But here’s question for you: Are you at all interested in reading a day book of 2020, a blow-by-blow account of all the things that happened along the way to make this the most infamous year since 1941?
I just watched a documentary about writer/historian Jon Meacham, who demonstrated that we’ve been in fixes like this before, but somehow I wasn’t comforted. We used to shoot and kill workers on strike. We ran Jim Crow as the law of the land for a hundred years. We put Japanese-Americans in camps and stole their assets. Hell, we committed genocide against the people who lived here for thousands of years before we arrived. We’re capable of all kinds of bad moves. Even now.
But here’s question for you: Are you at all interested in reading a day book of 2020, a blow-by-blow account of all the things that happened along the way to make this the most infamous year since 1941? Because, just for the documentation of it, I’m leaning toward publishing this thing when I finish it up. It seems kind of masochistic to want to review these morbid events, though I have tried to spruce it up with entertaining words. And I’ll be putting a warning on the cover that says: THIS BOOK CONTAINS POLITICAL OPINIONS.
The journal can stand as a record of “our American carnage,” but maybe it’s too much to ask to relive 2020 so soon after the wreckage of it washes up on the shores of 2021.