The pandemic and the previous administration have been braided together so tightly that it is impossible to talk about one without talking about the other. Our knowledge of the virus, its effect on every aspect of our daily lives, our fears and anxieties, the spikes and flattenings, the lies and misinformation, the election, the riot, the collective trauma of it all – these are all part and parcel.
By contrast to the past year, the weeks since the inauguration have been strangely quiet, a sudden lull after the storm. The current impeachment trial, however, is a reminder of what we have been happy to leave behind. As I watch the way the defense tries to change the narrative, it strikes me that the most tragic part of the past year is the deterioration of our collective sense of right and wrong. We have seen so much vitriol and bad, even criminal, behavior overlooked or excused. This has dulled everyone’s sense of what is acceptable and puts us in danger of accepting as normal what is far from it.
I hope that after the pandemic part of returning to normal will be sharpening that sense again. A conviction in the impeachment trial would go a long way toward doing that.