July 27, 2020
If you find the seemingly incessant cascade of bad news confusing as hell, here’s a thought that may help a bit (though I doubt it will, unfortunately, save you from either splitting headaches or irrepressible waves of anxiety).
In fact we are facing not one, not two, but at least three crises sharing several points of intersection.
The first is the health crisis – the readily transmissible Covid-19 virus itself, of course, but also the more fundamental crisis of a health care “system” ill-prepared to respond effectively to the ravages of a pandemic with, presently, no end in the sight.
Second is the economic crisis – again catalyzed most dramatically by the Covid health crisis, but also a crisis long-brewing in the form of an alarming growth in poverty and inequality, already breaking into a significant measure of public/political consciousness well before the recent explosion of unemployment and economic precariousness (recall the Occupy movement during the “good times” of the Obama era to which a nostalgic candidate Biden would like to return?).
Third is a broad social crisis – sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, but mushrooming into a tsunami of continuous protests about structural racial injustice, and now – with a major assist from a fearfully besieged and fascistically bent President Trump – about the unconstitutional repression of dissent. This crisis too is not new, or the spark of Floyd’s death would not have found tinder; it’s been building for decades as policy elites have fallen steadily under the sway of corporate influence and ruling class demands, increasingly out of touch with the needs not only of marginalized minorities but of the majority of working Americans.
Add to these three crises – intersecting yet distinct – a fourth, derivative, one, i.e. the seeming incapacity of our political system to rise to the challenge of the moment.