Same old partisan fault lines threatening recovery.
Judging from the angry debate over prospects for reopening the economy in cities and states and the nation, one might think it’s an either-or choice.
With 30 million-plus new unemployment claims and counting, the economy must be restarted or there won’t be many pieces left to pick up.
And with more than a million coronavirus cases and thousands dying every week, simply declaring victory and hoping for the best is a fever dream.
There has to be a smart, middle way that focuses relentlessly on containing the virus while allowing most businesses to carefully resume operations over time. People need to get back to work to secure their personal finances, and businesses need to reopen while there’s still time to save the franchise.
It won’t be easy. The American economy is largely consumer based and just because restrictions begin to ease doesn’t mean people will feel safe and comfortable to go shopping, go to the movies, get a haircut or have a manicure. Fear will be a factor at least until a vaccine is developed and successful treatments are common.
Which brings us to this old saying: If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging it deeper.
Increasingly, the same old fault lines are appearing and making recovery harder. In Wisconsin, the Democrat administration and the Republican legislature are fully at odds again. The partisan rancor is on full display. So is the lack of any cohesive plan forward.
In Washington, the split is perhaps most evident in comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others suggesting, in essence, that Democrat-run states shouldn’t get financial help.
Meanwhile, those propaganda machines—talk radio, 24-hour left and right cable channels—have reverted mostly to pure partisanship aimed at fueling anger and division. MSNBC is all anti-Trump, hour after hour, while Fox is all pro-Trump, hour after hour.
No doubt, the fact this is a presidential election year makes the actual coronavirus crisis itself an inconvenience or an opportunity, depending on the orientation of the career politicians and their enablers. Think about it. How sad is that? How indicative is it of the decline of civility and statesmanship in our great nation?
Historically, America has faced existential challenges before—the Great Depression, World War II. The nation survived—and eventually thrived—because it could find substantial unity of purpose.
That’s what is needed now. A unified approach to contain this terrible virus while cautiously and deliberately restarting the economy.
Toward that goal, partisanship is not an ally—it is an impediment to progress. Political leaders of either persuasion will not save us. We must save ourselves, by rejecting partisan fault lines in favor of common purpose.