Opinion: Powerful issues are at stake this election season

Opinion: Powerful issues are at stake this election season

It won’t be easy, but nothing valuable ever is.

  • By Jamison Paul
  • Thursday, September 10, 2020 11:00pm
  • Opinion

By Jamison Paul

It’s election season, again, or maybe it never stopped.

The president has been on the campaign trail since before he got elected, with a slight hiatus for a worldwide pandemic and national emergency, which he began by denying it existed, capped off by recommending that we explore ingesting disinfectants and suggesting his own agencies were lying about casualty figures.

That’s continued, along with the pandemic itself, which according to government statistics has claimed almost 200,000 American lives — or, if you prefer to take the word of the president, has only accounted for about 9,000. Wearing masks might help limit the spread of the virus — but once again, the president has stated that those wearing masks are really expressing their disapproval of him, so many are left wondering, and a few are scorning the entire thing.

Then there’s the U.S. Postal Service, something many of us have taken for granted for most of our lives. Many hold it up as a solution to having a safe national election — but the president decries it, without evidence, as a vehicle for corruption and cheating, though he and his family reportedly vote by mail. He has in fact urged his supporters to vote illegally; once by mail and once in person, supposedly to test the system and ostensibly to compensate for any imagined cheating on the part of his opponents.

Conflicting signals have resulted in an almost complete vacuum of federal leadership in the public response to COVID-19, among many other things: Foreign interference in our elections, a national epidemic of gun violence, continuing examples of police brutality and racism that have fueled a national protest movement, not to mention the collapse of the economy and impoverishment of many Americans, especially in the service sector.

I have often thought of President Donald Trump as a sort of comic relief to a corrupt and entrenched political establishment that has rolled on for too long, at our expense, without serious challenge — but some ugly actors are emerging from the shadows to fill the leadership vacuum left by Trump’s bizarre and contradictory behavior, and I’m not talking about the Democratic Party: The “Boogaloo” movement, and other fringe elements intent on a renewed civil war, have seized on nationwide demonstrations as a means to provoke that war, seemingly with the full cooperation of many police departments, and the president.

There are powerful issues at stake here, but we seem unable to have a meaningful conversation about them. Our history of racism, the sanctity of life and the reproductive rights of women and our rights as citizens; to be secure in our persons and effects, to expect equal protection under the law, to freely assemble, to keep and bear arms and to freely express our views. We are asked instead to choose between two political parties, one of which is spouting unproven conspiracy theories — and the other, which barely has a message, advocating going back to business-as-usual from “Before Trump.” Neither party has protected us from the steady erosion of our rights; both have used these erosions as wedge issues to distinguish themselves from the other and both are primarily concerned with one thing, above and beyond any of the tenets of the Constitution or our individual rights as citizens: Wealth — their personal wealth and the wealth of their sponsors.

Looming in the background is environmental catastrophe, upended international alliances, and a renewed nuclear arms race — not to mention the complete dissolution of our civil society amid lack of trust in police departments, our institutions, and our elections.

We’ve reached a point where neither party truly represents us — where we are asked to pick up the table scraps from a system that primarily serves the ultra-wealthy, while we allow them to divide us into smaller and smaller groups, at war with each other.

We can stand by and let this happen — or we can act to overcome our differences and learn to work together; to stand by the ideals of equality and freedom that really did make this country great, and hold our representatives accountable for their actions in our name. It won’t be easy, but nothing valuable ever is. “Out of many, one.”

• Jamison Paul is a concerned Juneau citizen and father and Alaskan resident of more than 25 years.

More in Opinion

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Session ends with budget, dividend and bills passed

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

The Alaska State Capitol. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Listen to PAs; support Senate Bill 115: Modernizing PA Practice in Alaska

Health care is rapidly evolving, demanding a more flexible and responsive system

Mount Redoubt can be seen across Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Opinion: Hilcorp Alaska: Powering Southcentral Alaska — past, present and future

Hilcorp Alaska has and will continue to fully develop our Cook Inlet basin leasehold

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024 (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Collegiality matters

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Juneau Empire file photo
Larry Persily.
Opinion: Alaska might as well embrace the past

The governor, legislators, municipal officials and business leaders are worried that the Railbelt will run short of natural gas before the end of the decade