When last we met, back in mid-lockdown May, I was banging on about Covid knackering my attempts to do a bit of the old ultra-activism. Having spent most of March struggling to breathe and half of April self-isolating, I’d made it back out into the world doing doorstep social work and getting Red Cross food parcels to people stuck in their houses. As I said back then, if ever there was a time for some proper solid do-gooding it’s in the middle of a deadly pandemic. What I didn’t anticipate about this particular deadly pandemic is that I would be personally attacked by the motherfucker.
By June it was clear Covid wasn’t done with me. Like many long haulers I found myself flagging, exhausted by the basics of getting a shower, cooking for myself, and attempting coherent thought. I clung on at work but was doing more and more of it from bed, and by early July had to admit defeat and quit it. July is a blur now, most of it spent with my eyes shut, barely able to leave my bed except to go to the loo and scavenge food from the kitchen. August brought the excitement of being able to walk a few blocks, so shakily I’ve been eyeing up a return to walking sticks. Again, that’s eaten into the old ultra-activism.
Rudely, the rest of the world chose not to wait for me. Black Lives Matter protests revealed who among us couldn’t give two shits about black lives, and who prefer statues of genocidal slavers to living humans. Murderous white supremacists took to the streets, mistaking their outdated second amendment for a license to kill. Fascism continued its unlikely comeback as Trump tried to cheat his way to a second term and hinted at an unconstitutional third. And just this morning, hitting as hard as any of the above gut punches, came news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had left us, and that Mitch McConnell would continue his services to evil by ramming through her replacement as soon as he zipped up at her graveside.
Against these and 7,000 other daily outrages my response has been to rage against the marmalade slob on Twitter, a bed-based bit of echo-chambering about as useful as whispering my thoughts into a matchbox and burying it at sea. I’ve tried to target people claiming to be on the fence, people unable to distinguish between a disappointing septuagenarian corporate-centrist and an actual climate-denying fascist, and begged people to donate in the closest senate races. And I’ve been panic-buying trees via Plant For The Planet to suck up a bit of the carbon dioxide we’re still spewing out at suicidal levels. But largely I’ve found myself quite incapable. Quite irrelevant. Fighting off a return to the wheelchair days while the world fights systemic racism, fascism, climate denial and general indecency.
I’ve been frustrated by the selfishness of it, the small worldness of it. And always the same questions: What can I actually do? What can I do from my bed? And from my bed in Scotland? What can I do now I’m able to get dressed and do short stints around the block? With news of the loss of RBG I looked again into donating to Democrat campaigns but their sites want proof of American residency. The same goes for broader campaigns like Act Blue and even general do-gooders like the ACLU. I thought about bunging a load of money to an American friend to have them donate for me, but figured that was the kind of foreign interference that would have Robert Mueller knocking on my door. Although given how thoroughly ineffective he was it’s maybe worth chancing it.
The best I could figure on this shittiest of days: I gave to Rock The Vote, who are forever fighting to get young people to the polls and are about the only political organisation that’ll take my dirty foreign cash. It’s a tribute to my Covid-addled brain that it took hours of research and tons of downtime in bed to reach the same conclusion I’d apparently already reached two years ago after the Kavanaugh shitshow. How I laughed.
Beyond that, as I work on getting my health back I’ll keep doing battle with undecideds on Twitter, and keep begging Americans to give to the most flippable senate campaigns: Mark Kelly in Arizona; John Hickenlooper in Colorado; Cal Cunningham in North Carolina; Theresa Greenfield in Iowa; Jon Ossoff in Georgia; Steve Bullock in Montana; Sarah Gideon in Maine, to displace the treacherous Susan Collins; Jaime Harrison in South Carolina, to throw the craven, cowering Lindsey Graham in the bin; and, for unlikely lols, to Amy McGrath in Kentucky, to screw over Mitch McConnell.
And so, to answer my questions: What can I actually do? What can I do from my bed? And from my bed in Scotland? Turns out it’s not much, very little and bugger all.