Arlene Violet: Does the good outweigh the bad in 2020?

By Arlene Violet
Posted 12/18/20

By Arlene Violet

Does the good outweigh the bad in 2020?

Were someone to ask what events do I remember about 1980, 1990 or 2000 — even 2010 — I’d have to wrack my …

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Arlene Violet: Does the good outweigh the bad in 2020?


Were someone to ask what events do I remember about 1980, 1990 or 2000 — even 2010 — I’d have to wrack my brain to come up with even a half-dozen items. I don’t think I'd have any problem coming up with items for 2020, and not just because it is current. This will be a year that few will ever forget. During any period of time, an optimist like I tries to find that the good outweighed the bad, but this time I’m not so sure.

Topping anyone’s list for a good/bad analysis is the response to the pandemic.

THE GOOD: Kudos to first responders like doctors, nurses, CNAs and other hospital or nursing home workers including janitors and food prep personnel. Praise should be also reserved for folks who delivered the food, worked in markets, delivered the mail and many other unsung heroes who simply did their job. Despite her missteps at times, Governor Gina Raimondo did a yeoman’s job. Many folks with less resources at their command contributed to charities to feed the hungry, provide shelter, and comfort those who mourned. Even though it is their job, funeral directors were exemplary.

THE BAD: Some weaponized the pandemic to strike out against perceived political enemies. Folks clothed themselves in the mantle of patriotism to scorn those who wore masks or those who did not. Real issues were blown out of proportion or denied. One example is the Black Lives Matter movement. Clearly, this country has a race issue problem. Some police are trigger happy when it comes to the color of someone’s skin and others who know the racists on the force remained mute. Suggesting a dismantling of police departments was an overreaction, yet the careful analysis of what exactly should be a police response vs. another professional’s responsibility is a dialogue long overdue, as is the firing of racist officers.
Immigrants were demonized and the treatment of them and the separation of children from their parents will remain a stain on the character of America.

Will the current state of affairs metamorphose into a better 2021? The jury is still out. This country is fractured with red states harboring contempt for blue burgs and vice versa. People cannot agree even on whom the victor was in the presidential election. Congress cannot seem to stop the “do-nothing” pattern that has dominated its inactivity for years. Power and one-upmanship are more important than serving the citizens.

There will be noble moments ahead, particularly with the dispensing of vaccines on a true priority basis but query whether the process will becomes politicized if there are shortages or unexpected consequences. This country is so fractionalized there could very well be a civil war of ideas as to whom is more worthy to receive inoculations. Already in Rhode Island there is mumbling about prisoners receiving inoculations because of the congregant setting and present outbreak at the ACI, before middle age adults who have lives of rectitude.

So, back to optimism. I hate to admit it but I’m already preaching to myself not to be a Pollyanna. By definition that makes me a pessimist.

I really want to be proven wrong so please, go ahead!

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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