The prompt this week asks us to reflect on how we are observing others "performing quarantine." The question, I think, is an interesting lens to look through at people who are either bored in their homes with their excess of home entertainment and technology (posting on social media how they're "thriving" in quarantine"), spending every day playing old gaming systems, reading books, or running around some means of a backyard with their 5 siblings, hoping they will have enough food to eat each day, or mourning the passing of a relative or two, wondering when they will be able to hold a funeral and bury their dead. I wonder myself, "how do I create art in the midst of a crisis that reveals how impoverished the poor really are and how extravagant the rich really live. I think about how ignorant too many of the United States people are of the issues and social structures (or lack thereof) that make this crisis worse for our citizens than many other countries.
My heart breaks for the country I live in for myriad reasons: because of the divide between citizens who claim political parties, the number of people who refuse to listen to reason and do not spend time educating themselves about important issues, events, and people, and the possible future of Donald Trump in a second term as President of the United States. Directly before and now during, I have been observing closely the rhetoric and the actions of democratic presidential candidates, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden, and many of their supporters.
In the midst of such an important time of attempting to remove one of the most dangerous men in politics, this world pandemic takes us all hostage and disrupts most of the functions of society that we know to be real, true, and necessary for a functioning democracy, particularly in The United States. It reveals how we aren't as cohesive as we thought we were as a country, how broken our health care system is, how low on the totem pole a person without enough money really is, and how money truly holds power. No matter how far we think we've come in regard to anything politically in this country, we are baby steps away from the historical truth that if you have money, you have power, security, and a future.
So, with these thoughts rolling around in my mind, I observe the people we've asked to make decisions for us. How is Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez (AOC) "performing" quarantine, or during quarantine? How is Donald Trump "performing" during quarantine? How is Bernie Sanders "performing" during quarantine? These are political leaders, people that have gained favor and power from people like you and me who are, for some, supposed to set an example, and in general, supposed to put into place procedures, plans, laws, and other things that serve and protect the United States' people. Their "performance" during quarantine is often playing the role of enforcing and maintaining quarantine.
Many of these folks use Twitter and Instagram, so I use these mediums to see what they're sharing, posting, retweeting, or even sometimes taking pictures of in their everyday lives. Of course they're sharing what they want us to see–we all do via Social Media–but I still think it's valuable and particularly answers the prompt for today. How are these folks "performing" quarantine?
Here are a few tweets and posts from these folks I mentioned above:
AOC - What I am seeing from AOC is a little bit of politician, attempting to press on and make things happen for people, performing that she is still working adamantly for the people of the United States, especially New York where she is a US representative. She is also performing a sense of "everyday person," someone "just like us" with her Instagram story updates:
Donald Trump - What I am observing from Donald Trump, both via his online accounts and his public addresses and speeches is an attempt to appear like "everything is fine." He praises banks and industries that are supposedly doing very well and doing things for the American people, attempting to portray the United States economy as booming and strong despite the Covid-19 outbreak. He is painting the image of himself as the "good guy," a martyr of sorts, and an advocate for the United States despite facts and an ever increasing death toll.
Bernie Sanders - What I get from Bernie Sanders is the continued fight for causes he has been advocating for in his presidential campaign such as medicaid for all, higher wages for working people, and following the examples of other, more socialistic actions from countries such as Norway and Denmark that are providing stimulus to their country better than a one time $1,200 check for some people. His "performance" during quarantine is to continue to press for the social politics he has been supporting throughout his campaign and career. He portrays himself as a fighter for the people, an everyday guy who cares about policy change and revolution in the United States political system over anything else. He doesn't focus so much on how the people should be behaving during this pandemic (quarantining themselves) and is more focused on how other political figures are reacting or not reacting to the pandemic.
Here are a few other politicians' performances/actions on Twitter during quarantine:
Across the board, each politician attempts to "perform" their own political and seemingly personal rhetoric, to paint themselves in a positive light as leaders who are "getting shit done" and "doing the best they can" and "fighting for the people." Some of them have actually accomplished some things while others have simply maintained some sense of equilibrium and still others have done a lot of damage for the country and the world's cohesiveness. Unfortunately, these performances and self-portrayals often matter more than saving lives and the result is already gruesome with a prolonged, much darker future.