Hard to imagine, but the rich America, despite the everyday death news because of Corona, is pouring itself into grandiose acts of self-adulation. For example, in the comment columns of the “Wall Street Journal” at Easter, one could read how extraordinarily quickly and skillfully the nation of 330 million individuals had adapted to the new requirements of combating Covid. Not a word about the catastrophic supply shortages or the administrative chaos.
And even where Covid-19 draws attention to the particular concern of the black population, this sometimes takes on features of a surreal, quasi-religious revival experience. This is how it happened on CNN, where a detailed interview with a former US health director resulted in the finding: We have known the problems since hurricane “Katrina” in August 2005, and since then the lack of health care and health of the black population has been so almost nothing changed. There is no more devoted tolerance.
These are clear indications of the earthen feet on which the world power USA stands on the inside. No shortcoming is greater than the inability or even the unwillingness to think in systemic contexts and thus better protect the country against emergencies. Because that would cost a lot of money, a lot of money.
The current battle situation in the USA thus indicates a level of fragility that seems incompatible with the title of “richest nation in the world”. Those who do not belong to the top two to three percent of the population in terms of income have to deal with an individual and collective level of risk accumulation that is becoming increasingly difficult to bear.
How quickly economic and social decline can take place on an individual level can be seen from the fact that most Americans have health insurance through their employers. Currently this means in many cases: job gone, health insurance gone.
Not to mention the 35 million Americans who weren’t insured before the coronavirus crisis. And even those who are insured are struggling with an increasingly opaque jungle of high co-payments. This quickly adds up to several thousand dollars a year in extra costs. From there, the path to individual bankruptcy is not far.
Ex-President Barack Obama tried with his health care reform to put an end to this hustle and bustle. But the Republicans are still keen to get Obama’s tentative attempts at reform off the hinges.
Three sacred cows
Despite the increasing feeling of powerlessness, there is still little inclination on the part of the population to end the pronounced Duckmausertum in the USA and to lead the sacred cows of America to the slaughter.
The first of these sacred cows is the oversized US defense budget, the second is the outsourcing craze, and the third is the increasingly empty claim of American “exceptionalism”. With $ 748 billion in 2020, the US defense budget is the nineteenth largest economy in the world. It would effectively be a member of the G20.
But what should citizens think of a government that has such a gigantic defense budget, but where medical precaution is poorly neglected, for example with respirators and protective masks? She has to be asked whether she has the right spending priorities.
The sacred cow of outsourcing, which has been so eagerly propagated in the executive floors of the companies for decades, has also turned out to be a great risk maximizer. The tireless effort to expand the supply chains was, of course, all about minimizing costs.
Permanent outsourcing also freed companies from the obligation to train workers in the processing sector. In addition, with all of these almost endless supply chains, there were no solid contingency plans in case something unexpected should happen. Squeezing the last penny was what counted.
“Exceptional” – in the negative
The third sacred cow is the increasingly irrational, but still widespread notion in American society that its country is “exceptional.” This instinctive belief in superiority leads one to ignore even the most obvious dangers. The idea of the United States as a chosen people was one reason why President Trump completely rejected any threat to the United States from Covid-19 in February.
So it is no longer just Trump’s willingness to play permanently va banque that causes great problems for the Americans. It is also their own blindness.
It is therefore no exaggeration to say that American “exceptionalism” probably consists primarily of one thing: there is probably no other economically highly developed society in which even dramatic changes have so few socio-political consequences.
Republicans may cynics hold that clinging to the status quo has at least led to more equality in US society. Poverty in the United States has now become color-blind. It’s not just blacks and Latinos who have struggled with it.
And the class limit has also been exceeded. More and more people from the middle class and even the upper middle class are suddenly exposed to precarious living conditions.
This is also a clearly visible consequence of the Republicans’ refusal to ever address issues such as health insurance and unemployment insurance in a forward-looking, systemic manner. They continue to insist on emphasizing “rugged individualism” and are at best ready to initiate ad hoc measures.
Meanwhile, even among establishment democrats, it is often said that the sources of the country’s wealth are entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and pragmatism. In reality, the wealth that unfolds above all at the top of the income pyramid is based on the doctrine of putting all pension systems in society (beyond the armaments sector) as far as possible on an extreme flame.
In this respect, the upcoming US presidential campaign is indeed an interesting battle. Because even if the “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders is out of the race, many of his arguments about the blatant inequality, which is increasingly directed against the middle class, are perfectly correct. Especially since what is often branded as “socialist” in the USA is accepted as a necessary social standard in Europe even by very conservative parties.
Under the current circumstances, Democratic Trump challenger Joe Biden will find it difficult to retreat to the non-binding general places that Democratic presidents have loved to preach since Bill Clinton, but with no real effects.
At its core, this year’s presidential election is about the battle between clinging to rigid individualism and taking on more shared responsibility.
The Republican Party will continue to act as a mouthpiece for the rich. As a camouflage, the Republicans will try to become the great protector of the American workforce through a massive infrastructure program.
They failed to do this both Clinton in the 1990s and Obama after the 2009 financial crisis. The political logic is obvious: why should they have done something at the time that was correct in the matter, but would have used the democratic president politically? But this situation is different now.
Trump’s re-election is not unlikely
The American model works well as long as the system doesn’t have to deal with any extraordinary loads. But because the USA doesn’t really function as a system, but rather as a collective act of mutual (self) deception, this method has its clear limits. At some point the question of governability will arise.
Still, no one should conclude from this analysis (or from recent polls) that Donald Trump will lose the presidential election. In addition to the peculiarities of the US electoral system, which provides structural advantages to the strong Republicans in the country’s rural regions, an amazing conservatism still prevails in the USA to this day.
Above all, Trump has the advantage that – despite all his misconduct – he comes across as Joe Biden as the much more vital candidate. In the United States, that sometimes counts more than honesty and expertise. Therefore, Trump could still succeed in the end.
More: America’s oath of revelation – Corona and the United States’ system errors