We must be away for a while to regain awareness of what surrounds us. Otherwise, what should surprise or shock us appears banal, normal. This is true here and here in the United States.
As proof, my return to Montreal for the summer: my embarrassed observations of the rats in my alley, the graffiti disfiguring one building after another and the construction work ripping up downtown – oh, our poor downtown! – were all greeted with shrugs. We get used to everything, even the worst.
Returning to Washington two months later inspires similar emotions. The disconnect is disconcerting between what we notice all around – with new eyes – and what we hear.
Everything is fine
I listened, for example, to FOX News Vice President Mike Pence describe the choice presented to the Americans in the presidential election next November: a choice, according to him, between “the record of freedom and opportunity of Donald Trump and a democratic program written by the radical left and the vision of Joe Biden which will lead to socialism and the decline of America ”.
Mike Pence, obviously, does not look around when he leaves the White House – every day in the early evening – with the ten vehicles that form his convoy. The balance of freedom and opportunity has been weighed down by the pandemic.
Usually, at least by day, Washington is bustling with activity. Not the anarchic bustle of New York, but the liveliness of people who have ideas to defend, agreements to conclude, contracts to sign. Only once in 20 years have I experienced something else: everything stopped the day after the attacks of September 11, 2001. It lasted a few days, then it started again.
I spent the last week in and around the White House. The return to normal, forget it: no tourists, but also very few officials. The streets are essentially empty, the offices and several businesses have been abandoned and I had to finish at 8 p.m. the drink that I went to take with colleagues on Friday on a rare open terrace, after the waitress came to tell us that the bar was closing. 8 p.m. on a summer Friday!
Neither seen nor known
The “freedom and opportunity” praised by Mike Pence did not prevent more than a million new jobless claimants from showing up last week. The pandemic has a broad back, but it’s about looking around: the Trump administration hasn’t helped during my eight-week absence.
Democrats ended their convention on Thursday, promising better than the current chaos. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump draws another observation: “Where Joe Biden sees darkness, I see greatness. “
His portrayal of the United States led by Joe Biden reflects “the smoldering ruins of Minneapolis, the violent lawlessness of Portland, and the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago.” That was Thursday in Pennsylvania. Yesterday morning he was playing golf on his own land in northern Virginia. We come to develop, I swear to you, vision problems.
Trump, under 50% in all!