First, we have to survive the leadership crisis we find ourselves in, then we have to fix it.
To take a walk through New York City on July 4 was to confront just how far this great city has fallen. Park Avenue was almost empty of traffic, Madison Avenue was the same, all the famed streets of the Monopoly board have frankly seen better days and of course better market prices (Manhattan apartment sales are now the worst on record, suffering the biggest plunge in 30 years).
The very wealthy, most of whom quickly fled the city in March as the lockdown commenced, are still weathering it out in the Hamptons, or further upstate, or deep in New England or even out West. They have not yet returned and possibly may never, since high rise urban living is now seen as a serious health hazard.
On the both grand streets and the modest ones most restaurants are still boarded shut, as are the majority of small businesses. The little cupcake shops on the corner are closed, the shoe shops likewise, the bookstores and dry cleaners and all the cafes and premises that give a district its character are boarded up.
The protest graffiti that you see everywhere is a reminder that during the lockdown other forms of strife have passed through these half-empty streets too. Most of that graffiti asks for a better, fairer world with racial equality. Whether we get one is still an open question.
The income inequality gap has never been wider. The bottom 50 percent of Americans have just 1 percent of the nation's wealth, while the top 10 percent now hold 70 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.
Over one hundred years ago we had an age of robber barons and exploited serfs called the Gilded Age. They called it the gilded because every social problem was somewhat masked by a false veneer of shiny gold, a bit like Donald Trump's blond hair dye or the orange make he uses to hide his true pallor (the white around his eyes always give it away).
In 2020 we live in an age of Fools Gold, where even the so-called fortunes of the current ruling class seem to be overblown, or compromised, or half supported by foreign agents and shady investments, and based on nothing more than market shell games, dodgy deals and open corruption.
It might have gone on like, with the worst of us profiting and the rest perceiving, but for this pandemic. The coronavirus has ripped the mask off every systemic weakness in the nation.
Unequal access to healthcare has been exposed (Black people, who provide so much of the essential workforce, have been dying at triple the numbers of everyone else).
Unequal policing and protection has been exposed (Black people are regularly filmed being summarily executed in front of recording iPhones).
The virus has even exposed how people of means swooped in to scoop up protective equipment and sanitizers and masks for themselves early on, emptying out the shelves for doctors, nurses and the general public, even now.
The virus also exposed how, as millions of now out of work Americans struggle to make the next rent payment, the wealth of the 614 richest people in the country increased by $584 billion, or almost 20 percent, since the lockdown began.
In our wisdom we decided to afford those billionaires with massive tax breaks too, thanks to Trump's presidency, so they now pay little or nothing. That means that in America in 2020 where you start is now the real predictor of where you'll finish, and you can just scrap all that American Dream nonsense.
You might think, given all of these challenges, that the White House would see our national anxiety and pain, but you would be quite wrong. 45 now stands for the 45 million unemployed and the 130,000 dead and the $100,000 Russian bounties on the heads of American service members.
All this hasn't resulted in one word of sympathy or concern from the gilded businessman in the Oval Office.
In fact, instead of seeking to heal or calm he has instead used his pulpit to divide and inflame. Black Lives Matter protesters are “thugs,” the horrifying numbers of the American dead are all the fault of the “Kung flu.”
The governmental incompetence that has caused the virus to flourish instead of abate is the result of too much testing, not the failure to contain it by extending lockdowns and wearing a mask.
Just a reminder that Trump fired the US pandemic response team in 2018— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 9, 2020
Trump liked to predict if we elected him we would be bored of “winning.” But in fact, we are exhausted by his “white power” racism, by his nonstop Twitter dramas, by his longtime refusal to wear a mask or take the coronavirus seriously with a national plan of action, and we are exhausted by his inability to understand the damage his hateful rhetoric and open lying does to the nation.
But it's still the economy that will decide his and our fates this November. If a presidency has resulted in a net loss of jobs, that presidency should be concluded.
Walking through the half-ghost town of New York City this July 4, there was no question that it will be sending Trump his pink slip on November 3.