As I said on my blog a number of days ago when giving my most recent COVID-19 update, what happened at the pro-Trump uprising last Wednesday was awful, un-American, and frankly, insurrectionist. However, I’m not going to rehash all of the thoughts I went into with last Thursday’s post, because I feel that more people need to talk about yet another concern stemming from the uprising that I’ve heard few mention yet.
The concern is that we also may’ve witnessed a COVID super-spreader event as well.
From reports I heard, there were tens of thousands of individuals at this event. And, based on images I saw and audio I heard, many of the individuals there had just about the worst conduct imaginable from a COVID prevention standpoint:
Nobody appeared to be practicing social distancing.
Few people appeared to be wearing their masks. This is crucial, as from what I’ve heard, mask-wearing is key when you are unable to practice social distancing.
Many of the individuals were yelling, which results in droplets from someone travelling much further than individuals talking in a normal voice.
Many of the individuals came from far-away places, which meant that they may’ve already come into contact with individuals on the way to the event and may come into contact with other individuals yet on their way back home.
Time will tell as to whether this was indeed a super-spreader event in addition to being an act of insurrection. But if the behaviors I saw on the news were any indication, I think all signs point toward a potential super-spreader event. If the event celebrating Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court (a gathering drastically smaller than the one last Wednesday, albeit with similarly poor precautions in many ways) could be a super-spreader event, then this one has the potential to be a super-spreader event many times over.
All I can say is this: if there were a large concentration of individuals at the event coming from any particular part of the country, I just sincerely hope that those areas’ health systems are prepared to handle a surge of COVID patients.
P.S. The day after I scheduled this post, I heard news reports saying that some members of Congress may’ve been in isolation during the insurrection with someone who had COVID (and as such may’ve been exposed to the virus). You can find a news report from ABC on this issue here.
Also, I will not publish a post next Monday, which is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
I was absolutely overwhelmed with the response to my “what is” post last week about gaslighting. I never know when a post will resonate with my readers, and I could tell that my post resonated with quite a few of you. It’s unfortunate that so many related to the post because of their experiences as victims of gaslighting, but I’m also hopeful that some people will come to a better understanding of their experiences through reading that post.
However, I think it is worth doing a follow-up post because of things I’ve learned even since last Monday, and things people should learn as well, about gaslighting in contexts other than one-on-one relationships with other people.
In saying this, it is worth remembering that gaslighting is “a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions.”
Phrases like the following can be commonplace:
“Of course that didn’t happen. You’re being crazy.”
“Your mind must be playing games.”
“It’s all in your head.”
“You’re being too sensitive.”
These challenges to one’s reality, memory, and perceptions happen a lot in relationships, as I said in my post last Monday, but they can also happen in other contexts.
One other context in which gaslighting can happen is politics—something that a couple of the comments in response to my post pointed out last Monday. When a politician makes a person, or a whole group of people, question their own reality, that is political gaslighting. In fact, as controversial as it may be for me to say this, I think that the American people are a victim of President Donald Trump’s gaslighting regarding the election results—he is trying to get the entire country to doubt the basic reality that he lost, so that he could be president for four more years (or for life). Thankfully, no amount of gaslighting can result in giving Trump an election that he undoubtedly lost, but in the meantime the American people have to deal with the fact that he has successfully convinced a group of people of a reality that simply does not exist. And, when you have someone with a large platform who engages in an act of political gaslighting, the result is that a group of people gets convinced of a reality that does not exist (as is the case here with the election and President Trump).
Yet another context that gaslighting can exist is in the experiences of people with disabilities, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and other groups that face discrimination. Reading a post from Jackie at Disability & Determination helped me recognize that gaslighting absolutely exists in this context. Jackie’s post talked about gaslighting in the context of the disability community—it is painfully common in the disability community for someone to question or doubt the reality that there are certain things you aren’t able to do, or at least not do in the same way, as an able-bodied individual (or dismiss the reality of the disability in general). It can exist in the context of LGBTQ+ individuals through people who counter their perceptions of their sexual or gender identity, in the context of Black people through people who try to divert attention to how difficult they also have things in life, in the context of poor people by countering any notion that they are working hard yet struggling to still get by (saying that they simply need to work harder), and much more. Groups of people face discrimination and are gaslit about their own experiences of discrimination—a double whammy.
There may be other major manifestations of gaslighting that I did not cover either in last week’s post or this post; if so, please let me know in the comments section below. However, it is clear to me now that in addition to gaslighting rearing its ugly head in relationships, it can also rear its ugly head in other forms, such as in politics and the experiences of people in groups that face discrimination.
We found out today, November 7, 2020, that Former Vice President Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States.
I am glad that Biden won. While his record is not perfect (far from it), I believed that out of all of the candidates for this position, he was the one most capable of leading the country justly through these difficult times. While I know I have written on here about issues with Biden’s past record, I do wish that his presidency is a successful one. To take from the words George H.W. Bush wrote to Bill Clinton upon Clinton becoming President, his success is now our country’s success.
I also know there is a strong possibility of Republicans holding on to the United States Senate. If that is indeed the case (depending on how the runoff elections in Georgia go), I recognize that I will need to be realistic with what Biden is able to address, given the partisan environment with American politics at the moment. But, I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself either, as there will be two runoff elections in Georgia to help determine control of the Senate.
Election results aside, I think that there are a few thank yous that a lot of us, myself included, owe in light of the election that recently happened.
First and foremost, thank you to we, the American people, for turning out in such high numbers! Reports seem to be indicating that the turnout for this election is the highest it has been in generations. Hopefully, this level of engagement with our elections will continue well beyond 2020.
A thank you must also go to people who’ve worked the polls and counted the ballots. Without the work of these people, it would not be possible to have an election.
I thank those involved in overseeing the operations of this election. Many Secretaries of State (regardless of political affiliation) as well as local Boards of Elections have operated this election, in the middle of a pandemic, about as smoothly as one could reasonably expect. Furthermore, in light of baseless claims of election fraud from President Trump, many involved in overseeing this election have gone to great pains to be transparent about the election process (even to the point of doing things like having livestreams of places where votes are being counted). I hope this transparency will increase the faith some of us have in American democracy—a faith that seemed to be on shaky ground heading into this election.
My final thank you goes to all of the people outside the United States who have expressed thoughts for, and in the case of people of faith, prayers for, us as we go through this election. These have been tense times, so I appreciate the thoughts, well-wishes, and prayers.
Speaking of thoughts and prayers, I will end this post by requesting that people hope for (and, if you’re the praying type, pray for) a smooth transition of power from President Trump to President-elect Biden. I am sadly not confident that the transition will be smooth or that Trump will even accept the fact he lost this election, but given the challenges this country currently faces, a smooth transition of power is desperately needed.
Author’s Note: I am aware that the Trump campaign has made numerous legal challenges regarding the election results. I am also aware that Trump himself has not conceded as of the time of my writing this. However, what I hear from legal experts (which I am not) is that the legal challenges from the Trump campaign are highly unlikely to change the result of this election (even if said challenges succeed, and the overwhelming majority of challenges are not succeeding from what I hear).
Second Author’s Note: I will not publish a post next week as Veterans Day is next week.
Third Author’s Note: This post was written recently, so I apologize for any typos that may appear here.
 Currently, Democrats have 48 seats (a tally that includes two independents who caucus with the Democrats). The elections for both United States Senate races in Georgia are going to a runoff. If Democrats win both races, their 50 seats will be enough to control the Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tiebreaking vote.
Back in February, I said that on my blog, I would publish posts on major issues relevant to the election that are either misunderstood or not talked about as much as they should be.
By working on such posts, I found myself getting some insights into the upcoming election for President of the United States that I would otherwise not have. Because of those insights, as well as the fact that my blog talks about injustices that need to be addressed, I thought I would end these posts by talking about who I will vote for and why.
I’m voting for Joe Biden because, of all the candidates in the race, I think he gives the best shot at playing a role in addressing injustices. His past track record, while imperfect, gives me that belief.
On the issue of ableism and disability justice, Biden cosponsored some important legislation on this issue. He was a Senate cosponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was landmark legislation for people with disabilities. Earlier in his Senate career, he cosponsored the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which required equal educational access in all public schools for kids with physical and mental disabilities. While there is still much to do to make all corners of our country as accessible as they need to be, the passage of these laws, which was made a bit easier by Biden’s support and cosponsorship in both cases, was nevertheless useful. His support of such legislation gives me hope that with disability rights issues, he would reject the argument that something is “too expensive” or “too impractical” to be made accessible—arguments I often hear against making certain things accessible.
Those who are familiar with human trafficking issues would know that arguably the most important piece of American legislation when it comes to anti-human trafficking laws is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)—without its existence, traffickers couldn’t be prosecuted as easily, and victims wouldn’t be protected as easily. The person who introduced the reauthorization of the Act in the Senate in 2008 was…Joe Biden. As someone who used to help with anti-human trafficking education myself, I think it’s important for me to set the record straight on this issue because it has only come up in this election in the context of a sex trafficking conspiracy theory (one that Trump has praised the supporters of) that has complicated the work of organizations that are trying to combat human trafficking.
Speaking of Biden authoring things, while his authorship of the 1994 Crime Bill was controversial in many ways, one major positive of that overarching bill was the Violence Against Women Act, which among other things helped establish a Domestic Violence Hotline. A hotline that has come of great use during the pandemic exists in large part due to Biden’s efforts.
On environmental issues, Biden, while not perfect, is still eons better than Trump. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has a scorecard that grades politicians based on which environmental measures they do or do not support, as well as which environmental regulatory rollbacks they do and do not support. Biden’s lifetime score is 83%, which is not as good as the 91% held by Bernie Sanders or the 96% held by Elizabeth Warren. But, his main opponent is Trump, who in LCV’s own words, said about Trump’s environmental grade in his first year in office that: “However, to simply award Trump an ‘F’ does not come close to capturing both the breadth and depth of his administration’s assault on environmental protections and the harm it is causing communities across the country – all to provide favors to the wealthiest corporate polluting interests.”
These are some of the positive things on Joe Biden’s record, and I’m not even coming close to mentioning all the positive things (just a few that should be highlighted). However, as I said, his record is not perfect. I mentioned his Crime Bill on my blog, which is part of a larger dubious record he has when it comes to racial justice issues; there’s also the fact that he supported restrictions that prevented openly gay individuals from serving in the military, supported the Defense of Marriage Act (restricting marriage so that it’s between one man and one woman), and poorly handled the Anita Hill hearing, to name a few of the more problematic parts of his record. A charitable view of Biden’s record is that when someone is in public service for nearly five decades, there are bound to be some major mistakes within that record. A less charitable view would look at his record as evidence of his being a person who would add to injustices, instead of resolving them.
I tend to take a line down the middle—yes, he’s been in public service for a long time, but he does have some injustices to answer to. He has answered by expressing regret for how he handled the Anita Hill situation as well as for past anti-LGBTQ+ positions and the Crime Bill.
More cynical individuals may think that such expressions of regret are just for political expediency and/or are woefully inadequate; I most certainly understand the cynicism because politics can be so cynical at times. However, unlike President Trump, Biden has demonstrated the capacity to not just apologize but back it up with actions to show that he has learned from past mistakes. Of note was the fact that not only did he end up regretting his past positions that were unsupportive of LGBTQ+ rights, but he backed it up by: a) supporting same-sex marriage and b) forcing President Obama’s hand on support of same-sex marriage (by the admission of Obama administration officials). On a number of issues, but particularly racial justice, I sincerely hope that Biden demonstrates a similar capacity to back up his remorse for certain past stances of his (such as authoring the Crime Bill) with action (such as trying to find solutions to the issue of mass incarceration against people of color that many believe he helped create).
Even with the positives I found with Biden, some may be wondering why I’m not suggesting voting for a third party or not voting at all. Especially since I live in New York, some might argue that I could do either without having an impact on the election.
The answer is that I am voting third party, as I will be voting for Biden on the Working Families Party line (a third party that exists in some states, including New York). I think that it is important for me to vote for Biden and I think it is important for third parties to have a voice as well—by voting for Biden on the Working Families Party line, it’s the best of both worlds as far as I am concerned.
I also never considered not voting. I never considered that for two reasons: first, because I was able to distinguish key differences between Trump and Biden on issues that matter to me; and second, because I want my voice to be heard on local elections too (even though all my seats locally are heavily Democratic overall).
So there’s my breakdown of how I judged between the two major party candidates, and how I decided to vote for Biden. While I’m not as enthusiastic about Biden as some people are, I’ve concluded that it’s the best choice out of all the choices presented to me in this election from the standpoint of addressing injustices. And, given the fact that Biden seems more willing than Trump to follow the science when it comes to COVID, it’s a choice that I hope will save some lives.
I will be interested to hear others’ thoughts on the election, though! Feel free to comment below.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this post are my opinions alone and does not represent an endorsement by any organization with which I am associated.
 I know many people have already voted. But this post is directed at those who have not already voted (or those who have but are curious to hear what I have to say).
 I am focusing on his past track record because I think looking at a track record of nearly five decades can be instructive in determining what sorts of issues he may stand for in the next 4-8 years—potentially even more instructive than looking at his platform.
 I am not going to use tons of space in this post talking about Trump. There are lots of posts on the internet talking about Trump’s negatives. Instead, I’m going to use space here to talk about some positive elements of Biden’s record, because it’s important not just to vote against someone, but for someone.
Let me start by saying that I apologize for the delay in getting this post to you all! I had some evening work to do, and then there were some other things I needed to do after my work was done for the evening. Better late than never, I guess!
Even now, nobody in my family has gotten any coronavirus symptoms. I’ve said this before and I will say it again–I am really wondering whether we’ve had this before without realizing and we have immunity built up, or whether we had coronavirus and were asymptomatic, or what. All of us in my household at this point (myself, my brother, and my parents) personally know multiple people who’ve fallen ill from the coronavirus, and all of us know of people (friends of friends, at minimum) who have died from the coronavirus.
Speaking of deaths, it appears that deaths have flatlined, but they have flatlined at a horrible rate. Each day in the last week (maybe longer), New York’s Governor Cuomo has reported somewhere between 600 and 800 deaths per day. One death is a death too many, but 600-800 deaths per day is just an incomprehensible level of tragedy and grief. I sincerely hope that these numbers go down quickly, and go down soon. I also hope that whenever we do reopen my city, my state, my country, that we don’t do so in a way that results in our ending up with this level of loss of life again, because honestly, it’s too much loss.
On the topic of death (and sorry if this is too much talk of death for some people), I do want to address something that President Trump suggested: that the number of deaths due to the coronavirus in New York City is inflated. The issue at-hand is that New York City recently reported an additional 3,700 or so “probable” deaths from the coronavirus (surging the number of deaths from the coronavirus in New York City past 10,000). These probable deaths are cases where the coronavirus or something similar to the coronavirus is listed on the death certificate as the cause of death, but the dead person never officially got tested for the coronavirus. These are deaths that could probably be attributed to the coronavirus, hence probable deaths.
I know today wasn’t the most fun or hopeful of posts, but I hope my readers are doing okay, and that you all are staying healthy!