How to build American resilience

For Americans and much of the world, 2020 has been an annus horribilis. To contain the coronavirus pandemic, nations have been forced to order mass quarantines, freezing economic activity and social life. It likely will take decades to calculate the full human, economic and psychic costs of this still-unfolding global calamity.

Few countries have been spared the ravages of COVID-19, but no country has been hit harder than the United States. A quarter of the 20 million people the virus has infected globally are American, and at 165,000, our death toll is by far the world’s largest.

The plague has put the world’s biggest economy on life support. After shrinking by 5 percent in the first quarter of 2020, U.S. output plunged by nearly 10 percent in the second quarter. Since March, more than 42 million Americans have filed for unemployment, and as many as one in six (about 25 million) remain out of full-time work.

Amid this unprecedented public health and economic crisis an old American dilemma – racial injustice – has reared its head. The senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans by police has triggered widespread public outrage and sometimes violent protests.

Intensifying all three of these shocks is a catastrophic failure of national leadership. In America’s past tribulations, extraordinary leaders have arisen to steer our republic through the storm. Not this time. President Trump has run the ship of state aground.

His incompetent handling of COVID-19 has prolonged the pandemic and pushed our economy to the brink of collapse. As demonstrations against police brutality and racial discrimination tear at the nation’s social fabric, Trump has displayed a perverse talent for inciting social rancor and pitting Americans against each other.

Now, with a crucial national election approaching this fall, Trump is trying to deny Americans the right to vote safely at home. He’s falsely crying fraud to undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of our electoral system.

No wonder Americans’ nerves are frayed. The impression grows, here and abroad, that our country is becoming a failed state.

But that’s wrong. The United States remains a resourceful and dynamic country capable of swift course corrections. Time and again, we’ve showed that a free people can bounce back from adversity stronger than before. Now it’s time to reinvent ourselves again.

Read the full piece here.

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