Snapshots. That’s what we have of the United States as we emerge tentative and fraught from lockdown.
We don’t have the whole picture, just snapshots of this and that.
Some of the snapshots are encouraging: The air is clearer, crime is down and a collective spirit is apparent in many places.
Others are more disturbing: The pandemic has become politicized.
Those to the right are demanding a total reopening of the economy; they’re abandoning masks and social distancing. And they’re using fragments of information to justify their cavalier attitude toward the great human catastrophe: They insist the government can’t tell them what to do, even if it endangers countless others.
The mainstream, meanwhile, reflects a cautious approach of phased-in reopening of the economy, masks, social distancing and sanitization.
Snapshot: People of middle age and older are conspicuously more cautious than the young.
Snapshot: Caution has no coherent spokesperson, unless you count New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Where, one wonders, is Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge President Trump in the 2020 race? He has, one reads, held dozens of election events, but his voice hasn’t been heard. (Can the liberal press be held accountable? Hardly.) Biden snapshot: a distant figure, out-of-focus.
Every time I catch a Biden speech, he’s talking about his family, his Pennsylvania roots, or the tragic loss of his son Beau to cancer. He hasn’t found the words that give strength to a distraught and suffering people.
If Biden has great ideas about the future, about how we will emerge from this terrible time, they haven’t been heard. Maybe he should hire a speechwriter; plenty of good newspaper people out of work.
Snapshot: A new federalism, as espoused by Trump: If it goes right, it’s my achievement. If it goes wrong, the governors are to blame: The buck never stops here.
More Trump snapshots: Obama is to blame; Mueller is to blame; China is to blame; inspectors general are to blame; villains at every turn.
Snapshot: Immigrants are heroes at the top and the bottom.
Every other doctor interviewed on television for their expertise about the pandemic, it seems, has an accent: That shows the power of immigrants in science. Immigrants also carry the load in the most dangerous job in the United States: meat processing and packing. It is high-risk, low-pay work.
The immigrant effect is encompassing and a source of value to all Americans.
Snapshot of healthcare: A system unequal to the job.
There are overworked and under-supplied healthcare workers, plus many patients who won’t be able to pay their hospital bills. Wait until the invoices start arriving across the country, spreading destitution. If the Supreme Court rules against Obamacare, the destitution will be complete: a black, financial hole swallowing millions of Americans.
Snapshot: The poor are poorly. Hispanics and African Americans are bearing the brunt of the financial pain, and a disproportionate number of infections. Because so many are on the lower rungs of the employment ladder, they’re completely out of money now, and may find they have no jobs to return to as restrictions lift. This may be the ugliest snapshot in the gallery.
Saddest snapshot: Americans lined up in the tens of thousands to get a handout from the food banks. Mostly, one sees long lines of cars waiting for bags of food. Those are the lucky ones: They have cars. The needy must walk.
Happiest snapshot: Science is back, despite the Trump administration’s attempts to hobble it.
The public wants medicines for many conditions, and the rush to find answers for COVID-19 will lead to many discoveries that will benefit other sufferers with other diseases. War spurs innovation, and that’s what we’re getting.
Hard-to-read snapshot: How many companies will survive? Will we have just one national airline? Fewer utility companies? Will retail and office space be on the market for decades? How many people will work from home full time going forward? A boom in self-employment, leading to many startups and innovations galore?
Interesting snapshot: Will the impressive governors and mayors who have emerged during the pandemic save us from the political mediocrity that characterizes the national scene? Check out Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D).
Keep snapping and wearing a mask, things will come into focus: good and bad.