Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

President Donald Trump looks out from the Truman Balcony as he arrives at the White House upon his return from Walter Reed Medical Center on October 5, 2020. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump looks out from the Truman Balcony as he arrives at the White House upon his return from Walter Reed Medical Center on October 5, 2020. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Make This Election About Care

There should only be one America: one where we all get the best care and the widest range of choices.

Elaine Shelly

 by OtherWords

My mother is a Black woman. But when I had to place her in nursing home care in 2016, I intentionally chose a home in a largely white community.

Trump lives in the America of choice and privilege. He is cavalier with his Covid-19 diagnosis and in exposing others because he will always get top-shelf care.

Why? Because she was more likely to survive there. Let me explain.

After President Trump's recent Covid-19 hospitalization, people said there were two Americas—one where people like him top shelf medical care and drugs, while the rest of us don't.

But the impact of the pandemic on communities of color has demonstrated at least four different Americas: one with infinite choices, one with few choices, one with only pseudo-choice, and one with no choices at all.

I see the America of Michael Hickson, a 46-year old Black man, who died on June 11 in an Austin hospital from Covid-19. His medical treatment and tube feedings were withdrawn because his doctor thought Hickson, who was quadriplegic, "didn't have any quality of life."

Hickson lived in the America without choices. Life and death decisions were made for him, regardless of what he or his family wanted.

I see the America of Rana Zoe Mungin, a 30-year-old Black woman. She died on April 27 from Covid-19 after being turned away from hospitals twice, despite having a fever and shortness of breath.

Mungin, a well-educated Black woman with a bright future, lived in the America of pseudo-choice. Despite her education, full-time job, and benefits, she was denied care.

I see my friend Anne's America. She struggles to pay for life-saving medication for her pre-existing autoimmune disease, despite working and having insurance. Anne, a woman of color, worries about losing access to healthcare if the Trump administration dismantles the Affordable Care Act.

She lives in the America that wavers precariously between few choices and no choices. Today, she lives with few choices. Tomorrow she may have none.

Finally, I see the America of Donald Trump, who received oxygen at home and proprietary experimental treatments. He was flown to a first-class medical facility and stayed in a suite more spacious than my apartment.

Trump lives in the America of choice and privilege. He is cavalier with his Covid-19 diagnosis and in exposing others because he will always get top-shelf care.

Covid-19 has hit Black and brown Americans especially hard due to racial health inequities that can have a domino effect across a lifetime.

Limited access to quality healthcare means Black and brown people experience higher levels of disability and are more likely to need long-term care. Yet insufficient community-based services in our neighborhoods cause us to be placed in nursing homes, where we're more likely to contract and die from Covid-19.

I knew this firsthand, because I stayed in nursing homes several times while recovering from flares of multiple sclerosis. That's why I made a different choice for my mom, and it was the right one: During Covid-19, none of the residents where my mother lives have contracted the disease, compared to multiple outbreaks and several deaths at every nursing home where I had stayed.

Nursing homes need to be held accountable—after all, the public health issues that plague nursing homes didn't start with Covid-19. But we also need to ask ourselves why nursing homes are the only choice for so many families, including my own. Universal long-term supports and services, with an emphasis on home and community-based care, is a much better option.

There should only be one America: one where we all get the best care and the widest range of choices, no matter the color of our skin, our level of ability, or how much money and power we have.

Voting for candidates who support strong care policies up and down the ballot is the first step towards building an America that cares for us all equally.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Elaine Shelly

Elaine Shelly

Elaine Shelly is a freelance writer and public policy volunteer. She lives in Oakland, California.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Congress Must Act': Bernie Sanders Demands End of Filibuster to Codify Abortion Rights

"We must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country. And if there aren't 60 votes to do it, and there are not, we must reform the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes."

Jon Queally ·


Human Rights Defenders Warn Biden Border Policy 'Quickly Transforming Into Trump 2.0'

Like his predecessor, President Joe Biden now being accused of "using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

Jon Queally ·


'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·


'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo