It’s Thanksgiving 2020. The pandemic is raging across our country. There have been 12.9 million cases in our country. 263,000 deaths. 179,067 new cases today. The original pandemic was extremely infectious. But since it first came roaring out of Wuhan, China some 9 months ago, it has mutated. Covid-19 is more infectious now than it was originally.

By now we know this virus is mainly an airborne virus that gets into our system by way of aerosols and droplets from people who may not even know they have this thing because they are asymptomatic. Merely breathing on someone can infect them. That is the reason we need to social distance, maintain contact only with our “pod”, wear masks in public and not to travel to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas or other holidays this year. We could be asymptomatic carriers ourselves.

Vaccines are coming soon if we can just be patient we can get to the end of this dark time with fewer casualties to our friends, family and their extended networks as well as the many thousands of health care workers who are overwhelmed and burned out trying to care for sick and dying Americans.

This is a challenge that calls for self-control and self-sacrifice. This is a time for Americans to deprive themselves of immediate pleasure for the greater good so we can enjoy greater pleasure in the future. It is time to try to succeed at the Marshmallow Test.

The Marshmallow Test

Psychologist Walter Mischel, [was the] designer of the Marshmallow Test.

A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life?

The world’s leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans are failing the Marshmallow Test this Thanksgiving. Americans are travelling on planes, going to Thanksgiving dinners and to religious gathering thinking that they are not going to get sick and that others they encounter are not carriers of the virus. Many Americans are still refusing to wear masks if they don’t want to. Trump has fostered this thinking. Fox News and conservative media have fostered this thinking. In rural areas of our country, people are getting Covid but they do not believe they have it. Pandemic denialism.

The Supreme Court joined in this denialism with its recent ruling. They struck down public safety measures imposed by the governor of New York that restricted the number of people allowed to gather together in areas of the state experiencing pandemic hot spots. Religious groups wanted to have larger gatherings. The 5 to 4 decision allows churches and synagogues to disregard the safety of their congregants and communities at large. The decision¬† undercuts the power of our government to protect its citizens and keep them safe. (Chief Justice Roberts joined the three “liberal” justices in dissent. Amy Coney Barrett was the deciding 5th vote.)

Donald Trump Fails the Test

Of course the biggest failure of the Marshmallow Test is Donald Trump. He is poster boy for self-indulgence. He grants himself the freedom to do whatever he wants and indulges himself by believing the fantasy he wants even when it is false. Trump lost this election but he continues to carry on about vote fraud at the “highest levels.” He still refuses to believe he lost to Biden by over 6 million votes. He will continue his attack on the Electoral College in some way shape or form until he is forced to leave on January 20th and probably even after he goes.

Trump is not even trying to be a president anymore. He is indulging himself by golfing, and watching his favorite cable news channels that protect him from the truth.¬† His grotesque “legal” team led by Rudy Guiliani continues to pretend there is massive vote fraud (they are more to blame because they know the truth). Trump was angry and combative in his Thanksgiving press conference. He still thinks he will ultimately pull out a win. He will never concede. He will keep a stranglehold on the Republican Party until he either dies. his rabid base recedes. or the GOP comes to its senses and finally turns away from him. The GOP will not be able to restore or reboot itself as long as Trump has the power of the rabid, radical Republican base on his side.

Trump’s Followers Fail the Test

I am not sure if the pandemic is a bigger threat to our country than Donald Trump and his Republican enablers are and continue to be.¬† Trump’s assaults encourage his followers to fail the Marshmallow Test in almost every way possible: you don’t have to wear a mask if you don’t want to and you can believe alternate facts if you want to. Rules and laws don’t apply.

If the many overworked hospital workers thought like Donald Trump they would quit their jobs and stay home, watch sitcoms all day or play video games or indulge themselves in other ways. Instead they get up everyday and try to save lives. These people are some of the heroes of the pandemic.

We Should Be Thankful to People Who Pass the Test

This Thanksgiving I raise my glass and give thanks to the many millions of Americans who are passing the Marshmallow Test.

Thank you to millions of Americans who waited in long lines for hours to vote against Trump and for Biden. And all of the poll workers and ballot counters who carefully counted each ballot that was cast. Because of you, our democracy held.

Thank you to the front line workers in hospitals across America who are working night and day risking their own lives.

You are doing your best to help Americans to stay alive and helping those who are dying without their families by their bedsides in hospitals across the country.

Thank you to the teachers, the front line workers who go to work despite the danger to themselves – working in grocery stores and delivering orders.

Thank you to Americans who wear masks and rely on facts, science and truthful news sources.

Thank you to everyone who marched in the streets for the Women’s Marches and against the Zero Tolerance separation of families at the border, for Black Lives Matters.

Thank you to epidemiologists who must be sick and tired of repeating the same information day after day- wear a mask, social distance, don’t travel to see your extended family this year, wash your hands.

Thank you to all the wonderful women and men too who worked so hard to get out the vote for Democrats across the country: supporting terrific candidates by making calls, sending texts, writing and sending postcards. Some of these candidates won and some of them lost, but the effort was worth it because our participation in our democracy brought us together with a common purpose and we learned we can never again take democracy for granted.

Thank you to my own family that has hunkered down and maintained an absence from so many of the things that give all of us happiness. We are here for each other. We are passing the Marshmallow Test.

Next year we will have a president and an administration that cares about us and about the world. We will have a vaccine that will be distributed over time by a government that works. We will be on the road to recovery from a very sick and very dark time in this country.

Starting January 20th we will get to have even more than two marshmallows and this insane administration will be out of power, OMG, I am so thankful!


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