Though we’ve known for four years that the 2020 US election cycle would be even more fraught than the strange and painful fall of the 2016 elections, most of us still find ourselves a little disoriented these days. For some, the urgency to remove Trump from office has immobilized us. For others, it’s fortified us into action to get out the vote and to sway those who are undecided, apathetic, and reluctant.
In the final five weeks before the election of a lifetime, we asked writers to consider the undecided voter and contribute compelling arguments and ideas for making the world right. Some contributors sent us work that takes on issues with precision and gravity. Others sent us different work, perhaps an even more visceral snapshot of this alarming moment — a one-act play, an open letter, a story of exile. New writing will be published weekdays; we believe its wisdom and strength will help us all navigate the uncertainty ahead.
For the voter with the seed catalog, growing increasingly anxious trying to imagine forward, faced with a global climate catastrophe. What you hope to see grow in a landscape, gradually becoming less familiar and hospitable. Knowing you can count on record highs and lows in temperature, and considering that regardless of what zone of the country you live in, the very real possibility that your garden may be laid to waste by a flood or a drought, or may be torn asunder by a hurricane or a twister or possibly wildfire — children in first grade can spell tsunami. When did the bee balm disappear? It’s not natural. Neither is the color of the orange smoke barfed up by the chemical factory across the valley. President Trump didn’t cause the global climate crisis — scientists believe we are in the middle of the sixth extinction — but he is hastening the planet’s demise. Trump made gutting the EPA and dismantling all federal climate policies (taking particular glee in destroying those established in the Obama era) a cornerstone of his administration. If Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is elected, he has sworn to reinstate previous environmental protection laws and to aggressively pursue new policies that tackle climate change. It is possible that one day pursuing a seed catalog will not bring on a bout of melancholy or be an exercise in grief. It is only possible if we vote for Joe Biden, in record numbers. We need more than a blue wave — we need a tsunami.
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Elissa Schappell is the author of two books of fiction, Use Me, a finalist for the PEN Hemingway prize and Blueprints for Building Better Girls. She’s a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, a co-founder of Tin House, and teaches in the MFA programs at Columbia, Queens in Charlotte, and at WorkRoom.