”One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.”Simone de Beauvoir
When I started this series, I wasn’t sure what direction it would take or if I could sustain it for 100 days. With 19 days remaining, I have far more than 19 half-written drafts, notes, and ideas. And the next 18 days promise no shortage of news that will inspire outrage and trigger memories. But tonight I have no top issue in mind, instead I’m thinking about how this wraps up, what the concluding argument is, and what comes next. If the final days are as crazy as the rest of 2020 have been, there will be very few nights like this to pause.
If I have tried to get at one political idea through my art and writing, it is the idea that local matters, individual relationships matter, and that the sum of those relationships is what changes the big picture. Art critic Jillian Steinhauer put it well in her newsletter this week:
In the realm of politics, the macro view has always superseded and messed with my micro view. I look at the big picture—this country was founded on genocide and the brutal enactment of white supremacy—and I feel hopeless. But increasingly, thanks to talking to and reading the words of people smarter than me, I am maybe finally starting to understand that, in a way, the micro IS the macro—that, as much as writing letters to voters in Florida may feel meaningless, it’s what we have. We have personal relationships, we have conversations, we have the places we live, and we have the actions we take, which are often shots in the dark with unknown outcomes. I’ve long held back from doing things that didn’t feel like they were enough, but it turns out I was raised to believe nothing was ever enough. And if nothing is ever enough, then why would you do anything?Jillian Steinhauer
It’s only natural that these big national presidential elections capture our attention. And this one more than any past election. The media focus on the Presidential contest is intense, and the power of the office is huge. But, if everyone who is engaged in Biden vs. Trump would place even a fraction of that engagement on local issues, we’d be in a very different place. I’m heartened by what I see around the country and here in D.C. on local issues, especially Black Lives Matter and ending the reliance on police and incarceration to solve problems. I think the longstanding gridlock in national politics between the inherently conservative Senate and relatively progressive House and a back-and-forth White House is helping more people see that change is most powerful and most possible at the local level.