"I already told my family that if I catch this virus — God forbid — I'm not going to the hospital. I'll pop myself or cut myself rather than die in the hospital, miserable and alone."
A friend said this to me today. And I believe her. And worse is I don't think the sentiment is that uncommon.
This is where we are. This is where the ineptitude and lack of compassion of our federal government has gotten us.
The pandemic has put on full display so many of the inequities we've become accustomed to ignoring. So many people are struggling. Communities of color are getting poorer and suffering more violence. Job scarcity is the new norm. People are hungry and getting hungrier.
NO ONE HAS HEALTHCARE. In LaSalle County, where I live, positivity rates are on the rise even as our capacity for testing remains limited. The other week, I tried to make an appointment with the health department to get tested just in case and learned the health department itself was temporarily closed because staff had tested positive.
People on unemployment are looking down the barrel of seeing their benefits reduced and I am using that imagery intentionally. Suicide rates are up. This situation is dire, and some of our supposed leaders are falling down on the job.
In far too many cases, we've got leadership like Adam Kinzinger ( R IL-16 ), who has shrug-emoji'ed his way out of culpability or cried "China hid the virus!" and cowered in the shadow of the President rather than face the struggling, suffering, and dying constituents his oath of office mandates he serve.
I lived in Hyde Park for nearly a decade, and still talk regularly to friends in the city. There's a sense, I think, that IL-16 is a different world. "Corn, right?" they ask. "The Stevenson to…where?" And there are differences, sure. But there are more similarities than you might imagine.
People need groceries, healthcare, rent. People need to know they're not going to be evicted and that when eviction protections are lifted, they've got a way out of the seemingly bottomless budgetary pit so many of us are going to find ourselves in.
I grew up poor — in trailers with possums hanging off clotheslines and houses we couldn't afford to heat. I know what it's like to struggle, and I'm running for Congress because I know the things that were difficult for my family are getting harder for other people, not easier. The pandemic exacerbates those struggles, for all of us.
Things are getting harder because of people like my opponent, who has sold us all out to line his pockets with dirty money, to sneer at us from FoxNews, and to vote against the kind of help so many of us desperately need.
I've got a friend, Meghan, a single mom who was between jobs when she got sick. Unemployment was a godsend, keeping her afloat for months. What is she going to do now that her benefits have been reduced? When schools reopen? When the moratorium on evictions expires?
The HEROES Act would have provided direct relief to families. It wasn't perfect, no. But it would have helped. And rather than vote for it, rather than provide the urgent resources necessary to save people's lives, Republicans walked away. Republicans said, some of them aloud: "There are more important factors than people's lives."
We've seen their bill and we know what, to them, is more important than people's lives. It's protecting corporations from liability for risking the health of their workers. It's fighter jets. It's an FBI facility across the street from a Trump property.
Trump's politically motivated executive orders are a sleight of hand. "Look at me here as I magically extend unemployment — temporarily while also reducing benefits — while I pull the rug out from seniors, underfunding Social Security with the promise that, if re-elected, it'll be permanent."
What we see on the ballot this fall isn't just a referendum on the failures of the Trump administration. It's a referendum on our collective willingness to take care of one another. To put the interests of Meghan, and this country and all the people who live here first. Billionaires, Donald Trump, corporate liability, and fighter jets be damned.
Dani Brzozowski is the Democratic nominee for Congress, IL-16, for the Nov. 3 election.