Responsibility during COVID-19 and the holidays

This week in Michigan politics, a petition has been made calling for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s impeachment, there was a decision to not certify Wayne county’s votes, the subsequent reversal of that decision, top Republican legislators appeared at a Trump hotel and the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association’s request to lift the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ temporary ban on in-person dining was denied. 

As President Donald Trump tries to challenge our state’s election results and some Michiganders rebel against safety regulations, it feels as if we are on the edge of something terrible. Whether it be a rise in COVID-19 cases that dwarfs our already astronomical rates of infection or the unraveling of the democratic process, there’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong — and the signs point to a grim future if left unchecked. 

Despite the dread that we might be feeling, it’s important to remember that we have agency. Many people here at Grand Valley State University have taken an active role, with organizations like the Community Service Learning Center working to keep students informed for weeks after the election, and the Hauenstein Center helping students understand the “new normal” of the pandemic. 

Everyone is preoccupied with their own unique challenges during the pandemic, election season and the holidays, but in this moment, we all share two responsibilities: we should be doing our best to limit the spread of COVID-19 and we should work to have faith in the democratic process. 

The Center for Disease Control strongly advises against large gatherings of family and friends for Thanksgiving, but despite that, millions of Americans are still planning on traveling and congregating. Michigan residents especially — a significant amount of whom have ignored safety recommendations throughout the entire pandemic — need to practice caution, even if those around you like friends, family and mentors aren’t being careful. 

Regarding our other responsibility; the President and the GOP have been working to create distrust in the electoral system by showering the American people with false and unverifiable claims about the validity of this election. Michigan politicians, like Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield and the two members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers who initially refused to certify their county’s election results, are actively complicit in this scheme to undermine faith in democracy. 

Traditionally, the misinformation campaigns like Trump’s is not to change minds, but rather to make it so people don’t know what to believe. This makes it important to keep in mind that even with the massive amount of scrutiny that this election has faced, no widespread fraud has been uncovered. The results of this election —– President-elect Joe Biden’s victory —– is something we can have faith in, right now. 

The head of every Michigander is spinning with a ruthless news cycle right now, but as we look for some solace amid the holiday season, your responsibilities are simple: wear a mask and have faith in democracy. If we do that, we’ll make it to 2021. If everyone at Grand Valley can do their best to believe in the electoral system and celebrate Thanksgiving safely, we’ll have done our part to make it through this next week the best we can.