For 2020 standards, December has been a pretty great month. Videos showing the relief and joy of those vaccinated have begun to circulate the Internet, the Electoral College and the Supreme Court have squashed Trump’s final attempts of overturning the election results, and my family and I can celebrate Christmas pretty much normally, with all the usual decorations and big tree in the living room.
All of these events have made my life brighter, and yet I still feel frustrated and maybe even outraged about how our federal government fails to function properly and protect the less fortunate. Being a recent college graduate from an upper-middle class family, the pandemic hasn’t really restricted my access to good food, clothes, and basic hygiene products. But it certainly has for others in my small, rural Pennsylvania town. I have seen hungry, desperate people, and have heard about others. My church, thankfully, has increased the frequency of its food pantries, having a large one every couple of weeks. I helped out during some, carrying boxes of food out to car after car, full of people who need food. In addition to the food pantries, a 24/7 supply of essential goods now stands by the church’s front door. My mom was tasked with restocking it throughout November, and described to me how little was left day after day. People from my town continue to struggle, along with the millions around the country left with no work and no money.
So yes, relief efforts on a local level have helped some, but the lack of action on a federal level is what really, really angers me. I am still young, only 22, so I have a lot to learn. But from what I have seen and observed, partisanship in Congress, worsened by November’s polarizing election, stands in the way between the American people and desperately needed help.
Our coronavirus relief is a laughing stock when compared to those of other developed nations. We as a nation, the most powerful and wealthy country on earth, have responded to one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the modern era—which has taken the lives of 308,000 Americans as of December 17—with a one-time payment of $1,200 to individuals, $2,400 to married couples, and an extra $500 per dependent child. That was in September. By contrast, the United Kingdom continues to offer its workers up to 80% of their monthly salary, allowing for up to £2,500 to be put in each person’s bank account on a regular basis. Our response has been inexcusable.
Since September, cases have skyrocketed, and now our country has more deaths per day than those who died during 9/11. People need economic help, but also the comfort of knowing their government has their backs as we face unimaginable tragedy and damage day after day. In my view, both sides of Congress have shown that loyalty to their party is more important to them than helping their citizens, especially now since a new relief package is rumored to contain a payment of only $600. I hope that Congressmen and women will soon come to realize that they serve their constituents first, not themselves or the party that they belong to.
By David Traugott