When there's a deadline for a column on the day before what many feel to be the most important election in the history of our country, it seems impossible to write about anything else.
Over the years, I've made a concerted effort to keep politics — at least those of a partisan nature — out of these "Tales." Sure, I've written personal takes about what's going on in our community and beyond, but I've tried to share these perspectives as merely a citizen as opposed to a member of any political party.
There have been many columns over the years, of course, detailing what could be described as "goofy stuff my kids have done and keep doing." Unsurprisingly, these pieces have become increasingly difficult to write, as Grace and Zach have evolved from children eager to be written about in the newspaper to teenagers fearing their father will embarrass them and ruin their lives. My track record would likely indicate such trepidations are well founded.
At the moment, both kids are upstairs engaged in distance learning, as they have been in large part since this past March. Fortunately, both of them have proven adept at handling these challenges, though not without the occasional obstacle. Having a wife who teaches English to seventh-graders, I am well aware that not every student has this ability — and for a variety of reasons. This can make for a remarkable level of stress for not just students, but parents, teachers, administration and support staff as well.
Realistically, is there any relief in sight? Back when the virus first hit — now nearly eight months ago — our family was optimistic that a relatively brief period of inconvenience would allow us to get back to normal and see the guys from "Dude Perfect" at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in June. That performance, like an uncountable number of events, hasn't taken place, though the DP gang has made a few videos in the meantime to entertain the fanbase (including a hilarious take on "Quarantine Stereotypes"). And now, with the number of new single-day COVID-19 cases in Minnesota recently eclipsing the 3,000 mark, it's become easier to contemplate how much more we'll need to endure than just how soon things will return to whatever "normalcy" might be.
That idea of normalcy, it seems, is constantly changing nowadays, and that brings me back to Election Day.
While hotly contested elections are nothing new in this country, it's safe to say that this current campaign season has been unlike any in history. We have a president who's running for re-election less than one year after his impeachment in the U.S. House; a man who remains embattled in multiple other controversies. Yet, it would not be surprising to many if he emerges with a new four-year term.
I've read immeasurable inches of copy over the last several months analyzing this year's presidential race, not to mention other national and state contests. Two consistent themes seem to be the spending of massive sums of money and the demonization of opponents. Now, we've got talk about voter suppression thrown into this unsavory soup, along with the distinct possibilities that election results will be both delayed and contested. Given the amount of civil unrest we've already been experiencing in the wake of the horrific death of George Floyd, not to mention various protests in such places as Michigan over coronavirus restrictions, what kind of havoc are we heading for, no matter our election outcomes?
Regardless of which presidential candidate you support, it seems painfully obvious that we're not going to be unified as a country anytime in the immediate future. In some ways, that's to be expected — and even celebrated — in a nation such as ours. We are always going to have debates over any number of issues, as there are such a wide variety of life experiences that help shape our respective ideals. Those disagreements, if you will, shouldn't precipitate reflexive blame and hatred, but instead a need to at least be understood and appreciated.
That seems like a tall order, though, when we live in a time when a worldwide pandemic is treated like a political issue instead of a life-or-death crisis. I attended an event for U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis, in fact, during which he attested that COVID-19 would disappear on Nov. 4, as if it were a manufactured conspiracy to influence voters rather than a global emergency. Our president, meanwhile, has insisted on multiple occasions (as many as 39, according to a video shared Sunday by The Washington Post) that COVID-19 will simply disappear. That is independent, to be stressed, of the fact that he knowingly downplayed the dangers of the virus before its first wave wreaked havoc on Americans.
Here's hoping that, no matter what transpires this election, we can — at a minimum — agree on doing all we can about COVID. Maybe, in that event, I'll have simpler time penning a cute slice-of-life blog about my kids again.