The Trump administration is discovering with astonishment that the Corona Virus cannot be defeated without a robust social structure. Although Bernie Sanders has not gotten the votes he expected for his comprehensive social programs in the recent elections for delegates to the Democratic Convention, a virus from China — our economic challenger — suddenly illuminated the utter insufficiency of horse and buggy community services.
As the President claimed the scourge would soon ‘disappear, like a miracle’, his cabinet scurried around in the dark trying to make testing kits available and figure out a way to support workers whose factories had closed: most Americans do not have any paid sick leave! For once doing its job, the press details steps being taken around the world to limit the mortality rate, while recommending that Americans wash their hands every time they touch something. As for the President, he barred all Europeans from flying into the US for thirty days, angering Great Britain which still thinks it enjoys a special relationship with Washington, forcing him to reword the edict as applying ‘to the entire Schengen zone’ to which Briton does not belong.
Not only are public events such as ball games being cancelled, political rallies are too, in a crucial election year. While Corona illustrates more vividly than any statistics the dire need for a Bernie Sanders view of community and government’s commitment to it, voters are listening to those who claim they are ‘not ready for a revolution’! (Ironically, it’s precisely the elderly, who vote for Biden’s caution, who are most at risk of succumbing to it…) On my television screen I am seeing the 2020 Olympic Games torch lighting ceremony take place without spectators in what is perhaps the greatest irony: the ancient games were intended to foster amity between peoples, however they have been preserved for their commercial value.
These same considerations having all but eliminated the basic obligations of government vis a vis its citizens, the House of Representatives has to fight Trump over funding 14 days of paid sick leave for parents forced to stay home with children whose schools have closed. Although today many office workers are able to work from home, not all have the necessary electronic equipment this requires, and thus risk not being paid
The government also had to intervene to get laboratories to make testing kits available — and free for those without the necessary health insurance — as well as for the top health authority to stop requiring its approval for each individual test. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, has to justify the benefits to the economy of steps being taken to meet the biggest public health threat since the Spanish flu of 1918 affected almost 30% of the world population. The ‘bottom line’ is so powerful that she has to make a convoluted case for life-saving legislation.
Finally, the last word about bumping elbows rather than shaking people’s hands is that it too should be avoided because it brings faces closer together than is safe. As Trump prepared to meet with the Irish Prime Minister on the eve of St Patrick’s Day, the American holiday associated with good luck, traditional parades were cancelled all over the country. And as individual Representatives try to get Congress to pass legislation to meet the crisis, the President demands they save Wall Street.
Joe Biden made a five minute declaration, while Bernie spoke in detail about what the government should be doing now and in the future to guarantee that the United States catches up with the rest of the world with respect to health care. But the America that prepared in secret the monumental 1944 landing on the beaches of Normandy while continuing to meet the home front’s needs, has been kidnapped by the entertainment-industrial complex.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.