the American response to COVID is haphazard and mostly not effective. As many epidemiologists warned, the country was opening the economy too fast. This is why we are seeing spikes in both red and blue states. This will have real consequences for the country. Not only are we doing to see hundreds of thousands, perhaps into the million, deaths, and families planning funerals. These are personal tragedies that also translate to the economy. It means fewer breadwinners, and fear is not conducive to a healthy economy. This means that restarting the economy is harder.
I know, there are people who don’t care. Or some who believe it’s a hoax, and the deep state. There are a few who still think this is the flu. However, we have lost over 120,000 Americans in a few short months. There are those who defy health orders because of a libertarian concept of freedom, meaning they will not let the government tell them what to do. Ironically many of these are also the law and order types for others. But now we are seeing another consequence. This is not unexpected from a public health perspective. It is a real hit to our national reputation, and another signal the United States is leaving the stage as a global leader. The European Union is considering not allowing Americans within their borders when they open then on July first. We are in good company since Russia and Brazil are making the list as well.
so who will be allowed in? Citizens of nations who have done a good job in stopping the spread of the disease. We have not. In fact, it looks as we have given up. This is a slap in the face of American pride. For the nationalist right, a loud minority in the United States, this might be proof we should go at it alone. However, this is a problem for commerce, trade, contact, and even cultural exchanges. It also proves the nation that once led the methods and systems of public health, is no longer a leader. In fact, we are willing to give up in extensive testing and contact tracing in the name of politics, or worst.
Donald Trump’s true white nationalist base may love it since it follows the basest of instincts. Americans who have no passport may not care (the majority of the nation) but this is a serious matter. The president will make this into us versus them, which is all he understands, and it will lead to the United States leaving more international organizations if he can manage. The EU is telling Americans that the president is a failed leader, who has utterly given up in controlling this. They are trying to tell us he is trying to kill large segments of the country, without saying it.
We know Trump reacts badly to any criticism, regardless of where it comes from. This is as bold as it gets, without being transparent about it. He is being told, “your lack of action means we will treat your nation as a pariah state.” And while travel bans usually do not have the result intended, according to the World Health Organization, part of this is due to internal EU politics. After all, their citizens did what they were told by their public health officials. They still wear masks, and there are no arguments (for the most part) about their effectiveness. It is safer at this point to go to Rome than to visit San Diego, or anywhere in Arizona, or Florida. Why? We are seeing major spikes in American states, both blue and red.
The internal European politics are easy to understand. But there is more. The United States is giving up on any leadership and trust in expertise. This is not going to be a good thing for the future of the nation and her place in the world. Among other things, culturally this may point to the end of Hollywood as a cultural marker. We are now seen as a shadow of what we once were. This is no longer the United States that saved the day in 1941. This is not the nation that set the global order that has benefited us greatly in 1945. The American Empire is over, and this will also mean that we are going to lose our ability to set commercial terms, or for our companies to dominate the way they have, until now. This will have definite effects on the recovery post-COVID, as well as the size of our economy.
The president portrays himself as the chosen one to solve all the problems. He promised in his inaugural that the United States was done being a world leader, His American Carnage speech was exactly a description of what we are seeing. In that sense, he is fulfilling the promises of this speech. There is no wall. (all we have seen are repairs to the existing wall). It is also a reason to weaken the nation in other ways, especially the Department of Defense. What we are witnessing is the closing of the American imagination and the American empire. Who benefits? China for starters, which is starting to emerge as a global power, exercising both hard and soft power. Who else? Russia of course, which sees its global role expanding. They are a pariah nation, just as we are becoming,, but how Vladimir Putin sees his place is different from reality. It is not unlike the president, who still thinks he’s done well.
Dr. Anthony Fauci states that we have two weeks to get this under control. Experts have also said we are going to get a second wave in the fall. I do not expect the firefighters to get this forest fire, to use his analogy, under control. I do not expect containment to use the language of the forest service. However, we will not have a second wave. Mostly because a second wave requires we get off the first. It does not look as if there is any interest to do this. There are reasons for this, including who is most affected.
As I argued recently part of this is the politics of race and white supremacy. This is also a desire to pretend we are over this disease and a loss of interest. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will die, but sadly the executive branch does not seem to care. History will not be kind. And for the moment cancel any plans you had to travel to Europe. They will be on hold for the medium term, perhaps the long term.