Please vote!

The catastrophe that is the US’ handling of Covid-19

Back in July after 99 days of no community transmissions, Vietnam faced a 2nd outbreak that ultimately took 35 lives and put the whole country in a brief whirlwind. Fortunately, since then, not only have we managed to control the pandemic again, but we also registered a 2.62% growth in GDP in the third quarter. Experts predict that Vietnam and China will record positive growth in 2020.

South Korea garnered a lot of global praise for its handling of the pandemic. The Asian country will, in the future, become a case study for how to react during a deadly health crisis. Even though it didn’t register a growth, South Korea managed to limit the negative impact that Covid-19 has had on its economy.

Figure 1 – Vietnam’s Number of Covid-19 Cases. Source: Google
Figure 2- South Korea’s Number of Covid-19 Cases. Source: Google
Figure 3 – Impact of Covid-19 on GDP in South Korea, Compared to OECD and the US. Source: WSJ

Why do I cite Vietnam and South Korea here? They serve as evidence that it doesn’t need to be a complete trade-off between an economy and a public health crisis. The economy shouldn’t be the excuse for our failure to handle the pandemic, because:

  • If a developing country like Vietnam and a less rich country like South Korea can do it, why can’t the all mighty USA? Don’t we always proclaim that this is the greatest country on Earth?
  • I believe that when it comes to serving the citizens, their safety should come first without question. It’s the government’s job to ensure that citizens are cared for in crises, both from a health and economic perspective.

Let’s look at the US. The number of cases is on the rise again as we are entering the usual flu season and cold weather. There is no sign yet of a vaccine that can actually be mass produced for the public. Nor is there any sign of this pandemic being controlled. The President of the United States and multiple powerful Senators tested positive for the virus. The White House, the symbol of the US’s power, became a super-spreader. It’s unfathomable and unacceptable to me that this is the stage we are in after 6 months of fighting the pandemic. When you look at it, what progress have we achieved? If you are a manager and your job is to grade the US’ performance so far, what grade will you give, in comparison to other countries?

Figure 4 – The US’ Number of Covid-19 Cases. Source: Google

Voter suppression means that they are afraid of your votes

The Governor of Texas just issued a terrible proclamation in an effort to suppress voters. Per CNN:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Thursday limiting the amount of drop-off locations for mail-in ballots to one site per county.

The move significantly affects the Democratic stronghold of Harris County, which is the state’s largest county by population — one of the most populous in the country — and covers a massive area. It must now reduce its 12 drop-off locations down to one starting on Friday, according to Elizabeth Lewis, spokeswoman for the Harris County Clerk’s Office. Travis County, which includes the reliably Democratic city of Austin, must limit its four drop-off locations to one.Other large counties — like Tarrant, Dallas and El Paso County — only had one drop-off location already in place.

Source: CNN

The US is called “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave”. If the freedom to vote is taken away, what kind of freedom should we boast about here? This incident is hardly a one-off. Republicans have been consistently trying to delegitimize mail-in ballots, even though there is no substantiating evidence and GOP politicians have voted using the method for years. Ultimately, they want to dissuade health-conscious voters who are largely Democratic from voting.

Sadly, this isn’t the only method to suppress voters. Gerrymandering has been around for a long time. It’s a method to design a district’s shape that will result in favorable results for politicians. In other words, gerrymandering allows politicians to choose voters, instead of voters choosing their own public servants and lawmakers. In this case, some lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are guilty of gerrymandering.

There is no shortage of coverage on folks claiming that their votes don’t matter. The sentiment is real. I personally met a few people in Omaha, Nebraska who, with a resigned and matter-of-fact-ly tone, said that their votes don’t count. That’s what lawmakers count on. They want to dissuade folks that disagree with them with gerrymandering, voter suppressing tactics and a barrage of news aimed at creating confusion. They want to only have their supporters vote so that they can stay in power. If you look at it, it’s no different from taking away your rights and freedom.

Nonetheless, vote!That’s the most powerful weapon that you have. Your votes decide who can make your neighborhoods safe. Your votes decide who handle a public health crisis and your likelihood. Your votes decide how justice is served in your community. Your votes decide how your children’s lives will be in the future.

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