Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Throwing In the Towel? Can America Still Rise to a Challenge?

Known Covid Cases - 12 June, 2020
John Hopkins Covid Tracker

The graphic indicates why we need to keep the Canada-US border closed for a good long while yet. Remember, this map was compiled more than a week ago and about half of the States have been witnessing one-day record infections since then.

Readers of this blog know I'm prone to harping about viral contagions and other challenges looming around the world in the context of resilience. How well can a nation or a society absorb these punches, how well can it recover? How well can it bounce back in time for whatever is coming next?

New York Times columnist, Michelle Goldberg, touches on resilience when she writes that "America is Too Broken to Fight the Coronavirus."
Italy’s coronavirus catastrophe once looked to Americans like a worst-case scenario. Today, it said, “America’s new per capita cases remain on par with Italy’s worst day — and show signs of rising further.” 
This is what American exceptionalism looks like under Donald Trump. It’s not just that the United States has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths of any country in the world. Republican political dysfunction has made a coherent campaign to fight the pandemic impossible. 
At the federal level as well as in many states, we’re seeing a combination of the blustering contempt for science that marks the conservative approach to climate change and the high tolerance for carnage that makes American gun culture unique.

The rot starts at the top. At the beginning of the crisis Trump acted as if he could wish the coronavirus away, and after an interval when he at least pretended to take it seriously, his administration has resumed a posture of blithe denial.
I was talking with an old Conservative buddy last night. He was a Stanfield PC but shifted to the right when Harper infected Canadian conservatism. He even got to the point where the thought that Trump wasn't all that bad.

My friend, it seems, has had an epiphany.  During our long chat he let slip that we're not getting much if anything done on the major problems of the day because our politics has become so mired in partisanship. Everything becomes a political issue even problems that are medical or scientific matters. We wrap them in politics and then use them as ammunition to fight this insane culture war.  Politics renders existential problems insoluble. Politics has become a risk multiplier.

Paul Krugman touches on America's gaping wound in his column today:
...there’s a longstanding anti-science, anti-expertise streak in American culture — the same streak that makes us uniquely unwilling to accept the reality of evolution or acknowledge the threat of climate change.
We aren’t a nation of know-nothings; many, probably most Americans are willing to listen to experts and act responsibly. But there’s a belligerent faction within our society that refuses to acknowledge inconvenient or uncomfortable facts, preferring to believe that experts are somehow conspiring against them.
Trump hasn’t just failed to rise to the policy challenge posed by Covid-19. He has, with his words and actions — notably his refusal to wear a mask — encouraged and empowered America’s anti-rational streak.
Conservative leaders are beginning to resemble Confederate generals the like of Nathan Bedford Forrest. They don't shrink from carnage nor take any responsibility for the mayhem they leave behind.

As Ms. Goldberg writes, they have left America "too broken" to meet the challenges of the day and those that will follow in short order.


Lorne said...

Every day, Mound, watching or reading American news is like consuming another chapter in a dystopian novel that has no end.

the salamander said...

.. it really is time to update and upgrade our terminology. Words Matter.. Terms Matter. As the sense of your post points to.. 'partisan politics' i would start to differentiate 'partisan' from 'poisonous'. If its toxic, dangerous, reckless, unhinged.. then its left the boundaries of partisan far behind.. and advanced well into poison. So much of what we see now, when a majority government seizes control is neither 'left or right' neither conservative or liberal.. it descends to self serving personal ideologies, payback, stuffing judiciaries for a rainy day, pure greed, malfeasance.. daily deceits.. you name it.. it can be found. 'Captured' no longer is adequate to describe the unholy trinity of Politics, Big Business and Religion.

We saw this in the past with BC and Christy Clark, its deja vu all over again in Alberta, as well as Ontario.. To the south.. the US of A is a dazed and confused joke. How about Kentucky ? Amazing solution to cling to power going on. Blindside the voters, stun them with astonishing lineups to vote. I won't get down to more (endless) examples.. but in Canada eh.. we need to cease and desist playing pattycake and musical chairs in regard to Governance.. and the political party systems. Strictly in the context of Covid-19.. we should be alert enough and have learned enough to demand coherent pathways and solutions to ensure our safety - all ages. Being partisan saps ourselves.. sure aint the solution. I'm outraged by the behaviour of our elected - so called 'public servants' when they pretend to act on our behalf.. and are baby sat & coddled by mainstream media.. meanwhile its our essential workers & services and our medical & science folks doing the heavy lifting

The Disaffected Lib said...

Everything ends somewhere, eventually, Lorne. In this case we simply have no idea where the bottom is and what awaits us when we arrive there.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Sal, I believe you introduced me to the term "public serpents." In this age where less than a 40 per cent share of the vote can deliver a party 60 per cent of the seats (or more), we are doomed to hyper-partisan politics.

I sometimes think what we're witnessing now is the terminal stage of neoliberalism.

the salamander said...

.. we should see this as 'careening' time.. beach the ship at high tide and scrape the hull of Canada eh ! Take out the rot as well. We're blowing the wad via CERB etc.. anyway.. We have some renegade feverish Premiers.. and by some miracle, the Maritimes are spared the virus (so far) .. BC another miracle (so far) especially your big island. Meanwhile, Alberta is getting sandblasted on all fronts.. Ontario and Quebec taking a shitkicking

Perhaps the worst aspect is Kenney and his ethically fragile UCP Directorate.. Deary me.. yes.. the 'public serpents' with the majority government are going to reinvent Alberta in the image of.. uh.. Jason Kenney. As glib a prick as I have ever seen. Its always a laugh when he runs outta steam.. and resorts to huffing and puffing.. but he soon gets his wind back and the ideology and faux rationale and the sleezetalk get back to speed.