It had been generations since we drafted young men to fight in an unpopular foreign war. We now sent professional soldiers who volunteered to do our bidding. They were willing able and devoted to the causes we assigned. Mercenaries who fought and could manipulate drowns that kill for afar. War was now like a video game.
911 scared us to the point of us willingly giving up personal freedoms and privacy. But it solved the problem. Only minor incidences occurred after that.
Crazy gun violence was perpetrated against school children but again, with each attack, the gun sales lobby prevailed by fear-mongering. They told us, “What are a few children’s lives against our personal god-given, "pry the guns out of my cold dead hands”, right to arm ourselves? These were isolated events and children don’t vote.
Our 401K accounts kept growing, and banks promised, with fingers crossed, they would never let that kind of greed that caused the previous recession, happen again. We believed them and relaxed the regulations that got us into the 2008 Great Recession. The 401K accounts kept growing. Everyone who wanted a job found one; even if not a living wage.
We convinced ourselves we were living in luxury because we could finance for two years grossly overpriced iPhones; even when they needed to be replaced every year to be “current”. We had high definition TVs that could stream on-demand anything our hearts desired. We were distracted and lulled into false security.
The rich got richer and the middle class evaporated. The working poor who had no savings were pacified by artificially low pay having employment. You could get a 50 cent an hour raise by changing jobs. They would be OK as long as they had a job or did not get sick. "We can make it month-to-month!” They told themselves, “So what if I have to work until 80 years old. I like working”.
So with this false sense of security, we decided to send a message to Washington. To accomplish this we elevated an imbecilic, serial-bankrupt, reality TV star to the presidency as a populist attack on the bureaucracy. After all, how much damage could he do? Everything was working pretty well.
It did not take long before we saw his true colors by giving tax cuts to his rich buddies, and going after the weak as bullies always do. Why complain when he was doing just what we sent him to do – disrupt. Even if you did not agree with some/all of the decision he was disrupting. Big high-five - Stick it to the establishment.
Now we have a crisis on our hands. A disaster not of any one person's making. Nonetheless, a huge disaster that must be managed. A disaster that demands a real leader. A leader that does not require a ego stroking from "yes" men. A leader that shows compassion. Incompetency is not going to cut it. Fear and panic must be abated.
We are days away from our "Rock Hudson Moment", when a beloved public figure or family member succumbs to the coronavirus. I am hearing from a family member, on the front line of medical care, how inadequately prepared her ER is.
How bad can it get? Until we find a strong leader we are poised to find out. Historically one comes to the fore. E.g. Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War, Roosevelt in the Great Depression and Churchill in World War II. Let’s hope it does not take too long.
Just that some challenges simply cannot be met without a collective response of the sort only government can provide. That may seem obvious today, but it runs counter to the political currents. Perhaps we’ll remember when we leave our isolation and return to the public not to glibly denigrate the institutions and civil servants that protect it, or ever to stop pushing them, with respect, to be better. Jordan Himelfarb / The Toronto Star Newsletter