Elections in the US: A path to healing and respect for science

As we all wait anxiously for the final tally of votes in the United States, I sit to finalize my blog while remaining glued to the media updates and elections maps. It has been a long wait – four years – of deepening inequalities, growing anti-Black discrimination, homophobia, Islamophobia, and as of late, mask-phobia. I don’t recall a time in recent history where nurses – and most health professionals – shared so widely a political preference. This US election is not necessarily about a political party but about someone who personifies everything that is abhorrent and contrary to the health of a nation. The end is now in-sight, and the work to rebuild for our friends south of the border will be a hardened and a lengthy one. We will be cheering and learning from their successes.

But the United States cannot simply go back to the time before President Trump. Trump did not create a plutocracy, entrenched inequality, gaping race discrimination, lack of access to health and other basic services, growing disenchantment among working people who face a bleak future, destruction of the environment, militarism and far-right extremism – these are long-established trends in the country that he exploited and exacerbated. What needs to happen next is that those root causes of division, hatred and Trumpism must be seriously addressed. The soon to be (I hope) President-elect Biden and Kamala Harris – the first ever Black woman to serve as Vice President – must place first priority in restoring respect for science and scientists to curve the unimaginable suffering caused by the illness and death toll resulting from the purposeful and irresponsible rejection of public health advise. The new administration must also tackle the erosion in social and environmental determinants of health, exacerbated by the pandemic. And, the multiple race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, migratory status, and other forms of discrimination and marginalization must be addressed with care, sensitivity and determination. These are the kind of actions that will create a better future for the United States, its people, and the people around the world who are influenced by developments in that powerful country.