A side view of the Capitol against the sky.
Deliberations about another stimulus are currently happening in the Capitol. Photo courtesy of Jessica Rodriguez Rivas // Wikimedia Commons.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, I considered myself an apolitical person. I never went to community meetings or city council hearings. Nor had I spent time reading an enormous bill such as the HEROES Act or something as wonkish as the DC state budget. However, with the lockdowns stretching on for seven months, I became more active. 

Every morning, I check Twitter or watch CNBC and L.A. Late for updates on stimulus relief. I also regularly tweet at or email Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to see if there’s any movement with our stimulus checks. 

While I’m not someone that denies the existence of the coronavirus, I can question the generals leading us into battle. I have a constitutional right to question whether lockdowns are necessary. And many statehouses are fighting back, questioning whether these restrictions violate our Constitutional rights. Like in Pennsylvania, where a district court ruled against Governor Tom Wolf and his lockdown orders 

During the month of September, D.C. recorded 1,281 new cases and 20 new deaths. While that sounds like a lot, the trend is essentially a flat line. Yet we are still under strict lockdown provisions.

A screenshot of the coronavirus.dc.gov/data dashboard, starting at July 1.

If the coronavirus is such a threat to humanity, then why is it less risky to go to Walmart or shop at Target with minimum restrictions, but restaurants and small businesses still have to seat people outdoors?  Why are big-box retailers considered essential when anybody trying to pay their rent or feed their family should be considered essential? 

Because of these draconian restrictions, many small businesses could potentially go out of business if Congress does not pass another stimulus package. Since March, more than 70 local businesses have closed their doors, according to a Washington Post analysis. While Maryland has increased its indoor dining capacity at its restaurants from 50 to 75 percent, restaurants in Washington D.C. are still in phase two, despite the rate of new cases decreasing and plateauing in recent months. 

When will people be trusted by our politicians to weigh the risks of getting sick, and trust us to take the right precautions to protect ourselves. 

While I’m not happy with Mayor Muriel Bowser and these insane lockdown restrictions, my real ire is with Washington lawmakers—from the president all the way to Pelosi. 

I feel like I’m just a pawn where nobody cares if I’m sacrificed. My longtime girlfriend of 10 years died due to the unintended consequences of the coronavirus lockdowns: depression, isolation, and poverty. I was furloughed from my restaurant job in Georgetown. I’m unable to sell newspapers because everything is shut down and there aren’t enough customers. And I’ve lost eight weeks of potential Lost Wages Assistance funds while Congress bickers. My savings is slowly dwindling away. 

Other nations put the partisan bickering aside and did what was best for the country, not special interests. They don’t see those affected by the coronavirus as leeches living off the government. Germany pays almost 70 percent of net wages for unemployed workers, while Canada pays about $1,500 per month to those who lost their source of income through the pandemic, whether due to job loss or the need to stay home and care for others or quarantine. Our politicians get paid handsome salaries while they argue that paying the unemployed $400 to $500 a week creates a disincentive to return to work. 

Many Americans have received one stimulus check, but others, such as the homeless or gig workers, haven’t received any stimulus checks because of technicalities such as not having a home address or not knowing how to file. It’s abominable The richest most powerful nation in the world refuses to do the right thing — to make sure those impacted by the coronavirus get relief — and have instead been dragging their feet for political reasons. 

The president is not blameless for the dysfunction in Washington. He says he’s sitting on billions in cash but hasn’t used it to save small businesses or the millions that are unemployed, many that live in swing states he needs to be re-elected. He says he wants to see the American people get money. But if that’s what you believe, follow through: either force Congress to do a deal or find a way to send stimulus payments through executive order. 

But I’m angrier at the Democrats. Grow some spines! 

Nancy Pelosi is one person, but there is a moderate wing lead by Steny Hoyer, a bi-partisan Problem Solvers Caucus, and a Blue Dog Coalition. You don’t need Pelosi’s Heroes Act; you can find moderate Republicans that are in tough elections to do either piecemeal legislation for stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment, or save the airlines and small businesses. 

My taxes pay these people, and every time I turn on the news they seem to be on vacation. 

This November, if I don’t receive another check, I will make sure many of these long-time corrupt politicians receive no more checks from us.  

It’s not just the Democrats. The Republicans have done nothing to protect the people that voted for them. They hold up the Constitution, yet what is moral or legal about allowing Walmart and Amazon to make record profits when small businesses have to operate at reduced indoor capacity? Or why are mass protests OK during these lockdowns, but politicians threaten to fine or jail you if you congregate at a church. There are a lot of double standards.

I’m not letting President Donald Trump off the hook either. He surrounded himself with cheapskates and “trickle-down” theorists. 

But he also issued an executive order to provide additional unemployment assistance after the CARES Act benefits were not extended, and he banned evictions nationwide through the end of 2020.This while Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer turned down an offer from the White House to extend enhanced unemployment at $600 for one week, then another offer to extend it at $400 for four months because my so-called advocates needed the unemployed for strategic reasons. Democratic South Carolina Representative James Clyburn, openly said this pandemic was a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision” at a time people were starving and facing eviction. 

The truth is, I don’t want to pin everything on the Democrats and Pelosi. There are many Republicans that need to be voted out. I don’t want to get rid of Pelosi and Schumer and replace them with McConnell. I wish we could rid them all and put term limits on career politicians. While there are times I’m upset with Trump, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is still not an option. I don’t want a return back to the Bush or Obama years. 

The system needs to be burned down and we need new ideas and new thinking.  

America is in an existential battle between those who want the government to control all aspects of their life and those who want the power to make their own decisions.  

Hopefully, freedom wins over oversight that’s been packaged by elites as progressivism, when their true intentions are not to give you “free stuff” but to make you either serve the state or be ridiculed and canceled. 

Jeffery McNeil is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media.