The economic and social meltdown from the COVID-19 pandemic exposes how successful the White, wealthy, and privileged in the United States have been in subverting the government for their purposes. A process that began the moment European explorers arrived.
A friend of mine recently summarized it this way:
I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.Ronnie James
To this day we have not come to grips with fundamental injustices our country was built on, the cultural genocide and theft of land from Native Americans, the enslavement of African Americans and the legal justifications of bestowing rights and privileges on white land-owning men. The consequences of these injustices continue to plague our society today. And will continue to impact us until we do what is necessary to bring these injustices to light and find ways to heal these wounds.
An article in the New York Times last Sunday uses the term uncompromising racism.
So far, the debate around these ideas has focused on the fiscal and political obstacles (Mitch McConnell, ahem). But there’s a bigger problem. Americans have repeatedly rejected expansions of the social safety net because it inevitably collides with one of the most powerful forces shaping the American experience: uncompromising racism.Why America Will Never Get Medicare for All. Forget politics or money. Racism explains why the country lacks the safety net its citizens deserve by Eduardo Porter, New York Times, March 14, 2020
Racism has forever been a forbidding obstacle to the development of a welfare state, at least of the sort that Europe enjoys and many Americans aspire to. By standing in the way of solidarity, it has produced an exceptional country that accepts without flinching the most extreme wealth alongside deprivation that has no place in the industrialized world.
Why does the United States suffer the highest poverty rate among wealthy nations? Why does it have the highest teen pregnancy rate? Why are so many Americans addled by opioids?
The United States alone has crumpled because it showed no interest in building the safeguards erected in other advanced countries to protect those on the wrong side of these changes. Why? Because we couldn’t be moved to build a safety net that cut across our divisions of ethnicity and race.
I avoid using labels. But the the Republican party and administration’s policies and pronouncements are unapologetically racist. They revel in the designation. The current president was voted into office by those who want this racism to continue, to expand.
This administration’s long delay in recognizing the COVID-19 pandemic has put the country at great risk because for months people who didn’t know they were infected were going about their daily lives, infecting others in the process.
The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have finally gotten the attention of the administration. But their concern is how the fall in the stock market affects their chances for re-election.
Their response is to bail out large corporations, and send a small check to the general public to try to damp down their discontent. Even that will not reach people most in need, people who don’t have an address to send a check to. Likewise extending unemployment benefits, while good for those who once had work, again doesn’t apply to those who haven’t been able to find employment.
…the idea of a takeover by the numbers is troublesome. The goal is not a future in which people of color bully white Americans. What this country needs is to overcome racial hostility and develop a comprehensive sense of society in which everybody fits.Why America Will Never Get Medicare for All. Forget politics or money. Racism explains why the country lacks the safety net its citizens deserve by Eduardo Porter, New York Times, March 14, 2020
While minorities might eventually reshape American politics into something more inclusive, until that happens politics will be determined by the efforts of freaked-out whites to resist this change.
Ask yourself why the United States, alone among the world’s richest nations, still doesn’t provide its citizens comprehensive, universal health care. Ponder why Obamacare is being so relentlessly whittled down by Republican governors, the courts and the Trump administration. Racial animosity is at the root of all this — and until America finally grapples with it, even the grandest plans will amount to nothing.
Social safety nets have been targeted by the Republicans because they don’t believe they have an obligation to “support” those who aren’t like them. Because of uncompromising racism. In the face of the pandemic, social safety nets have to be strengthened tremendously and immediately or the consequences will be dire.
So the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?Ronnie James