Ironically, the virus is breaking the nation’s fever. Now, in full lock-down pandemic-panic, stock markets give up inflated gains by tweet, mirroring traumatized investors’ daily rising and falling temperatures. Yesterday’s history becomes tomorrow’s COVID-19 reoccurring nightmare from which America in cold sweat is structurally unable to awaken.
Dave Leonhardt/NYT lists five simultaneously streaming, domestic horror reality shows (“curve not flattening, caseload growing more rapidly than Europe, medical supplies and testing shortages, and inconsistent nationwide official policies”). One could add a rapidly rising domestic unemployment rate so far at 4.4% and thousands of healthcare, home care and emergency response workers ordered to save others without being equipped to save themselves.
Many of America’s elected and appointed partisan ideologues are realizing belatedly, and some truculently, that imposing their science- and facts-free opinions on those they promised to lead can be a deadly business. Calling out those false prophets, Judge Judy remarked that, “beauty may be skin deep but stupid is forever.”
It is also historically unforgiveable, like Robert McNamara’s slow-motion conversion on Vietnam after the casualty count was tendered. Lincoln’s tribute to the fallen, that “last full measure of devotion.”
Real leadership is built on authentic-organic personhood example rising to the immediate occasion by taking charge and direct responsibility. Real leadership is not something one can fake, swipe, steal, con, outsource, legislatively table, compulsively tweet, tribally parrot, or blame others for when failure strikes. Real leadership is U.S. Navy Captain, Brett E. Crozier, fired by this Administration from his job as Commanding Officer, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), for putting the COVID-19 healthcare safety of over 5,000 underway men and women in uniform on his watch not only above his career but defining it. For those who prefer art over life, real leadership is the “Gladiator” and falsely ousted general, Marcus Aurelius, in Ridley Scott’s film by that name, speaking truth to the powerful usurper emperor, Commodus, that “the time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end,” and then delivering on his promise.
Live digital demographic mapping shows extreme social distancing differentials between blue states taking it seriously and red states more culturally attuned to anti-vaccination clarion calls of all stripes by their anointed, bully pulpit leaders literally blowing it off. Similar to involuntary suicide-cults, willfully congregating “silent carriers” put others at mortal risk during a pervasive pandemic by physical association. Other’s blood on those hands.
Defending the principle of “equal and unalienable rights” constitutes an inherently unequal outcome for any circumstantial-proximity COVID-19 victim. This is when the right to choose translates into an unequal and asymptomatic power paradigm with lethal repercussions. Especially in these states and perhaps only through avoidable catastrophe not of any celestial origin but directly connected to local human choice, “MAGA” in 2016 must morally and practically upgrade to “MAHA” in 2020 – “Make America Healthy Again.”
But to get there and stay there, the United States’ full-throttle, comprehensive COVID-19 pandemic response, “the good, the bad, and the ugly,” must also cure America’s toxic, embedded and unresolved, forever-inequality disease as a preexisting condition. This healing requires not just a vaccine but a bottom-to-top structural reset. Successful damage control efforts “flattening the curve” to limit deadly contagion can also offer once in a generation “go big, go long” transformation opportunities. Empowered stakeholder economic structures starting with broadened and deepened, one worker and one vote ownership principles within local living ecosystems, will deliver much higher resiliency levels and profitable returns to a country suffering from a cosmic solidarity deficit.
Flattened curves can lead to highly improved and more inclusive civic society best practices where America’s majority precariat become newly enfranchised stakeholders. Demographically flattening endemic poverty and myriad injustice graphs caused by legal, health, wealth, environmental and climate destruction inequality practices can seed, cultivate and harvest more widespread and deepened democratic culture, and resilient stakeholder-centric economies. Extractive “trickle-down” can be replaced by regenerative and aspirational “gushing up.” Corresponding metrics and proven ecosystem examples already exist to be localized and scaled.
While on indefinite lockdown and economically commoditized in the Time of Coronavirus, it turns out that “interdependency” is another healing coin of the realm. In addition to basic PPE (preventative personal equipment), America needs more collaborative and trusting global partnerships built on shared values, not transactions. Sold down the river by a virus that transcends both oceans and gated communities, America is at the mercy of relationships outside of ourselves, beyond borders, markets and artificial silos. The world’s virus decoding scientific community is showing the way putting sharing collaboration before individual recognition. Perhaps politicians and business leaders should try to keep up.
Right now, the entire country is paying the coronavirus price and it is regressive and steep. The virus is flashing and deepening societal divisions caused by unreconstructed structural inequalities of access to wealth, opportunity and social mobility. Both faith and hope lead us to believe that when the virus smoke clears, a resurrection moment to banish destructive, extractive and terminal power paradigms will emerge and as a country we must seize this day to survive and then thrive more inclusively, collectively and equally.
Friday, April 3rd, 2020
Michael Alden Peck
1worker1vote executive director & co-founder