Sunday, April 19, 2020

United or Divided?

A salient point, indeed. The point is so salient that I have been making it myself. 

In principle, a pandemic ought to unite the nation. We ought all to come together to fight the common enemy. So says Joel Kotkin, and I concur.

Kotkin also says that the virus ought to unite the world in the fight against the virus. On that point, I am less sanguine than he. After all, the symbol of world unity is the World Health Organization. Add to that the United Nations. And you discover that these international institutions are less than worthless in times of pandemic. Nations ought to cooperate, which is not the same as coming together.

And yet, American politicians, having long since abandoned the goal of being statesmanlike, have simply gone on doing what they always do-- playing the virus for political advantage.

Nothing matters more than winning. And the way to win, these politicians believe, lies in affixing blame. This applies especially to Democrats, whose party has been taken over by halfwits who have nothing to offer by vitriol and invective directed against their least favorite president.

Kotkin summarizes:

Democrats like party strategist James Carville and Speaker Nancy Pelosi insist that Trump has “blood on his hands” and one of Pelosi’s more excitable colleagues has suggested that Trump be tried in The Hague for his handling of the pandemic. On the Right, meanwhile, the pandemic has engendered, in the US and elsewhere, a predictably anti-China and nativist tone, which have sometimes drifted into overt racism, particularly in Italy. Some journalists toss around terms like “Manchurian media,” a regrettable throwback to McCarthyism.

Those who have nothing of substance to offer launch attacks on America’s leadership. And yet, I disagree with Kotkin on the other point. Conservatives who are blaming China are trying, even if not very successfully, to unite the nation against a common enemy. Blaming Trump and Republicans is not the same as blaming China. We ought not to confuse internal and external.

As it happens, most Americans want us to have a more collaborative, even more rational approach to the problem. Fancy that:

This is no way to handle a global pandemic. Most Americans, according to a recent survey, would prefer a more collaborative approach. They have so far been disappointed. At a time when we need a rational discussion of policy alternatives and a thoughtful debate among experts, including not just epidemiologists, but also economists, psychologists, and social scientists, we are seeing an escalation of finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and character assassination from both sides.

As I said, I have been promoting such an approach from the onset of the pandemic. It’s nice to feel at one with most Americans.


trigger warning said...

And I'm not sure what "blaming China" means, specifically.

Did the disease originate in China? Yes.

Did the Chinese lie about it? Yes.

Is the emergence related to Chinese norms, whether unhygienic markets or sloppy lab protocols? Yes.

Has China unloaded defective medical products on afflicted countries? Yes.

Has China resold donated medical supplies to the donor country? Yes.

None of that is "blaming" China for the virus. Even if Chinese virologists engineered the virus, that's what virologists do, every day, all around the world. It's assigning responsibility, blaming, specifically for Chinese behavior that not only enabled the emergence of the virus, but went on to make the situation much worse than necessary, and even to bite the hand of countries the Chinese mercantilist policies have looted. To quote a Hong Kong dissident, "Don't trust China. China is asshole". The facts speak for themselves.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

All brought to you by Trump Derangement Syndrome. It’s an infectious, virulent, mind-wasting disease delivered into your home by the Glowing Box.

whitney said...

So it really solidified in my mind today that when this virus appeared in China they isolated Wuhan allowing no domestic travel, they shut the roads and all domestic air travel, but continued to allow international travel and kept the virus Secret from the rest of the world. China really is to blame for this. It's kind of out of my purview to see something so heinous and it's taking it awhile for me to really see it but that is what happened

UbuMaccabee said...

This event reinforces my core premise that we cannot really live together much longer. The arrival of this emergency just made the divisions and rancor between original America and ressentiment America more obvious. You think that if Iowa had all the cases and NYC had almost none that the same demand for a national shutdown would be occurring?

Of course, the Left was going to use this for any and every political advantage they could. They've done that since Lenin declared the 1893 famine good for Bolshevism. The ONLY care about having power; without it, they cannot pay their capos. We are getting a nice glimpse of their inner authoritarian on a state by state basis. The irrational hostility toward the President is on full display with no effort whatsoever to conceal or mitigate it. They just keep dialing it up.

I support the divorce movement. It's better to be poor and hopeful (and free) than to continue with the hypocrisy that we are one united people. We are not united, we are not fellow citizens, and we do not view the individual, the family, or the role of government the same. We are in a Civil War, we just haven't started shooting at one another yet. But every event like this just makes the situation worse. Or better. I think more and more people are coming to see the irreconcilable differences between the two populations within a single nation. and that's a positive step.

Who said we have to be one country, indivisible, forever anyway? Why is that so inviolate? Why be miserable together when you could be happier apart?

Christopher B said...

The response imposed on us is a significant force in the division, separating those comfortable with risk and liberty from those who desire security and safety. Unfortunately there is little way to reconcile those two outlooks in the face of this disease.