DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES

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Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

Dear Medium Friends,

Hello from New York City, all. I hope this post finds you doing well, despite the odd year through which we’re all struggling. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. Of the many things I am grateful for this year, Medium is one of them. This space remains a true sanctuary for me — and I hope for you — as the world and its pain clang around us.

I’m going to take a few weeks here in this space to depart from my usual pandemic ponderings and political analysis to focus on the personal. It is that time of year, when my home gets a little quieter and a little colder but warmed by reflections of the year that has been. This year is unique, in so many ways, and I want to celebrate the good times, even if they happen during the worst of moments. …


In 2020, there’s no other choice

Long table decorated with nice cutlery.
Long table decorated with nice cutlery.
Photo: NeONBRAND/Unsplash

Every Zoom meeting has ended the same way this week: “So, what are your Thanksgiving plans?” In years past, a question like this at the end of a business chat might’ve seemed like a polite platitude, a simple way to show a colleague you’re aware they have a life outside of the office. This year, though, the question is weighed down with real urgency: “What are you doing? I seriously need to know.”

We’re all looking for guidance on how to handle this moment. Do we gather? Do we mask? …


Though it seems like a curse, we can choose to see it as a gift

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Credit: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

This is the year we all woke up to how slowly the physical world moves. After 20 years of the internet training our brains that messages, food, packages, and Friday-night dates can be delivered instantaneously, 2020 has been a difficult reminder that we are, after all, human beings. Our bodies can only fight so fast. Our scientists can only work so fast. Our election officials can only count so fast. We are not robots. We cannot overcome the limits of the physical world.

Today, then, is a true test of our patience. The not knowing who will be president is a reminder of how little control we actually have in this life. Yes, we can effect change, but controlling how exactly that change happens, what it looks like, and how quickly it happens is often beyond us. This is a moment for us all to sit with ourselves and our families and be present to the right here and now. The future of America is unclear. The future of the virus is unclear. For so many, the future of our personal economy, our jobs, our businesses is unclear. That lack of clarity can quickly turn to hopelessness. And, left long enough, it can harden into a bitterness that is seemingly impossible to lift oneself out of. …


POLITICS

You’ll feel better November 4th

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Yes, we’re all exhausted. This year has brought us to our knees. We’re doing our best to hold our heads high as layer upon layer of trauma hits us. The chapters of pandemic life have crashed into us like waves, each harder and more painful than the last: the initial shock, the Zoom orientation, the Great Pause, the life pivot, the summer that wasn’t, now the autumn realization that — wow — this isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Add on top of that the protests, the riots, the homeschooling, and now, well, Sean Connery has died. The memes don’t lie: 2020 is scary enough. …


SATIRE

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Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
  1. Kristen Welker, the moderator, will orchestrate the debate with a massive switchboard on her desk, Beats by Dre on her ears, and a red Staples Easy Button she’ll press to mute the candidates. Muting will go wrong, and we’ll hear Trump interrupt his own voice while Biden’s lips move on screen.
  2. In his introductory remarks, Joe will say, “Well, it’s nice of you to join us at the debates, Mr. President.” Trump will say that anyone who wants to debate on Zoom is a “pussy.” #ZoomPussy will trend and will battle Toobin’s #ZoomDick on Twitter.
  3. Trump will claim that Giuliani was only tucking his shirt in, then he will demonstrate how to tuck in a dress shirt, taking down his pants on stage. In the audience, the Woman in the Red Glasses from Miami will swoon. At that point, the guys who invented “Untuckit” will rush on stage to promo their new fall line. …


COMMENTARY

Here’s your quick recap, in case you missed

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I didn’t know you could win a town hall. But tonight, Savannah Guthrie did just that. Perched on a simple stool a stage apart from the president, decked in a killer hot pink suit, NBC’s morning maven embodied the cool of Miami and the spirit and spark of the people who live there. She was fearless. She was smart. And she was ready. She was a pink flamingo, not afraid in the least to stick her neck out. …


POLITICS

Those are two very different things

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Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

The mythical “undecided voter” is not only on the minds, maps, and to-do lists of both the Biden and the Trump campaigns, but these mysterious unicorns continue to catch the ire of meme-makers and tweeters internet-wide. And they are regarded with great disgust. The thinking: how could you possibly witness the revulting acts of Donald Trump and still have no idea for whom to vote? For those of us squarely in the Biden camp, this remains astounding. The comedy naturally follows: how can you tie your own shoes? Have you been in a coma? …


ELECTION 2020

It’s time to modernize the debates for the 2020s

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The presidential debate last night was anything but presidential. Plainly put, it was an absolute shitshow. Jake Tapper said it best: “That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.” The political turducken that the world was subjected to on that Cleveland stage was no less than a disgusting spectacle — one that left both left and right annoyed, upset, and downright embarrassed. It was clear by minute two that we have stopped exporting democracy to the world. We now export mayhem.

It is no surprise that the debates of 2020 feel just like the rest of this godawful year. But the obvious recap is still important. Trump was ready for a fight and knows only one way to debate: interrupt until you drive the other person so crazy that they lose their mind. His goal was singular: get Joe Biden to fumble and melt down. Joe did not. In fact, for the first half-hour, Biden barely even looked at Trump, preferring to talk directly to us at home. Trump was juvenile, insolent, and over-the-top — even for him. …


ELECTION 2020

This is going to hurt

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Illustration by Jozsef Hunor Vilhelem

In less than six hours, President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden will take to the stage for the first of three presidential debates. It is likely to look different because of the pandemic. It is likely to have no winner. It is likely to enrage all of us — both left and right. Get ready.

From the current president, we are about to see a three-act play of cartoonish facial expressions, 137 mentions of “fake news” related to the Times story on his taxes, and a doubling-down on his law-and-order message. He will do what the RNC did last month: try to make you fear a Biden America in which the suburbs are invaded by anarchists (Black people! Liberals! Professors!) and try to make you believe that cities and states controlled by Democratic leaders are not his responsibility. He will defend his pandemic response and claim that we had the “best ” pandemic in the world. He’ll also claim that the economy has come roaring back. Throughout, he’ll use one simple word repeatedly — “Wrong!” — to interrupt and disrupt Biden. …


SOCIETY NOW

All is not lost, my friends

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A PIZZA BOX TOP, discarded on East 63rd Street, New York City. Photo by the author

There was a cardboard pizza-box top on the sidewalk last night, just sitting there, missing its lower half. I wasn’t the first to trample on it. I probably wasn’t the first to take a picture of it.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday — a champion of gender equality, a legal icon, a cultural force. She was notorious. She was 87. Mitch McConnell went to work quickly, announcing that there would be a vote on a new justice sooner than later. The press is already reporting on a potential conservative replacement; she has three names, too. The fighting has begun. We’re about to battle again over abortion and gay marriage — struggles that we thought were already won. But there was a pizza box on the sidewalk last night. An Italian man with a playful mustache is grateful. …

About

Julio Vincent Gambuto

Where the personal, pandemic and the political meet // juliovincent.com • @juliovincent

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