Editor’s Letter, October 2020: An Antidote to Helplessness

In these days of upheaval and isolation, though, we depend on each other for support—from schools and churches to workplaces and government services.

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

It’s easy to feel helpless these days. The pandemic has sapped our energy and tested our faith in trusted leaders and institutions. It’s killed more than 200,000 Americans and sickened another 7 million, with untold and unknown long-term health ramifications.

We’ve been assured at different times that COVID-19 doesn’t hurt children, would dissipate once summer heated up, and will be stopped by any number of vaccines that are almost ready. We were told that literally the least we can do to stop spreading the virus is to wear a mask outside, and we see fellow citizens ignoring the advice or purposefully doing the opposite. We were pressed by President Trump and others to reopen our businesses and our schools and get back to normal, and we saw COVID spikes in communities that heeded them.

Meanwhile, many of those doing a good job educating and protecting us have come under attack for allegedly overstepping their authority. Amy Acton, M.D., was hounded out of her position as director of Ohio’s health department, while Governor Mike DeWine is the subject of an impeachment drive. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear was sued by his state’s Attorney General. And Anthony Fauci, M.D., as trustworthy a national figure as there is, has been repeatedly maligned by Trump.

In these days of upheaval and isolation, though, we depend on each other for support—from schools and churches to workplaces and government services. And, despite some evidence to the contrary, I hope we still understand that responsibility to each other is as important a human quality as personal freedom.

This month’s cover package, A User’s Guide to Local Government, is offered as an antidote to our collective sense of helplessness. We highlight key functions of city and county departments, resources inside and outside of government to help you get things done, and ways to interact with elected officials. And we focus on your best way to get involved, voting, by discussing the McConnell-McGrath contest in Kentucky and Cincinnati’s 2021 races.

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