Triage and the election.

In a mass casualty event there are, in the most general terms, three classes of injuries; those that are likely to be fatal no matter the medical intervention, those likely to survive with or without immediate intervention lastly and those who will survive if medical intervention is initiated quickly, This is where the word “triage” comes from. It is the essence of an ugly truth; that there people will die and someone will have to decide which ones. Sometimes there are no good choices but only less-worse choices. Adulthood is making those decisions. It means being wrong sometimes with terrible consequences, but learning from those mistakes to prevent repeating them.

Recent accusations have come to light about one of the political nominees for President and sexual assault. The other major party nominee and current President has a string of sexual assault allegations going back at least forty years, admitted to assault on tape and is fighting a court order for DNA samples in a case from the nineties. It is an unenviable position all Americans are in to choose between two men who both are facing such accusations. In a perfect world no one accused of such personal acts of cruelty would be seriously considered for a position of authority. But here we are; there will surely come a day when we must look at the system which leads to these moments. Before you begin the investigation you must treat the stabilize the injured. It is not the time for fantasy or magical thinking; no minor party will sweep the elections and neither man so certain of their right to the office of chief executive will willingly stand down. The only recourse is to look at the facts as we have them and do what is most likely to save the most people.

Not having all the facts we are forced to decide from the information at hand. Assuming that all the accusations are accurate which person is the least-worst choice? Which vote is more likely to protect the most people? As we sit in the middle of an epidemic made many times worse by the current administration’s refusal to believe facts I would argue the choice is clear is we avoid the sort of rainbows-and-unicorns thinking of 2000 (which I engaged in) that lead to the death of over a million people in the Middle East since 2003.

Many of us are insulated from the repercussions of our vote by our class, education or position. We can make a “protest vote”, stay home, write in and we will still have a job, a home and our lives at the end of it. Empathy means we must vote for those without such luxury; poor people, racial and religious minorities, the homeless and refugees detained in squalor on our border. How many more Brett Kavanaugh-type Supreme Court Justices can our nation survive? What is the damage to our collective soul of another four years of treating refugees like criminals?

The day before I wrote this armed men stormed into the Michigan Statehouse and Maryland National Guardsmen defended medical supplies from confiscation by our own Federal Government. Having just spent a year seeing how thoroughly Civil War can destroy a country I have no desire to see that happen here. I believe in a country where we work together, elect officials and treat one another with respect, where we honor our responsibility to others as equal to our personal rights resolve our differences in the courts and voting booths. Such systems only last so long as they exist within the minds of the people within the nation.

I wish there was another answer and I could share it with you here. But the reality is we must choose between two men, both products of a system that has injured many grievously. Both currently accused of sexual violence. knowing this we choose which one help more people or at least hurt fewer of them. It is a cold and ugly moment and we should not bury this truth but come back after the election and discern what series of poor choices brought us to this moment. But in the current moment we must decide with the knowledge that we have on hand, and for me at least that means voting for Joe Biden, to stop the bleeding and begin the recovery.

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