America and the Dark Days of Social Divisiveness

July 13, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Americas Tags: AmericaDonald TrumpPopulismPatriotismSocialism

America and the Dark Days of Social Divisiveness

Political tribalism and social division has caused government paralysis.


The true patriots of the day are the healthcare professionals who daily risk their lives, and those of their loved ones, to treat patients without regard to which state or community they come from. A call for a national draft of doctors seems unnecessary given that they cross state lines in service of their patients as if those lines do not exist. Next to be saluted are the first responders who are the first to come into contact with those infected, often without adequate protective gear. And the often-maligned undocumented workers who farm produce and clean facilities. And the millions who work in warehouses, ferry the food and other supplies, and those who labor in grocery stores. There is no shortage of people who are good Americans; the large failure is at the very top. 

Some people find solace in the national unity reflected in the very wide support for the Black Lives Matter movement of demonstrators, included many white people. According to the Post-Schar School poll, 87 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans support the demonstrations. However, I am not sure this coming together has much staying power; also, it is unlikely to spill over to provide unity in other urgent matters. 


In the coming weeks, the challenge America faces will rise, as the number of deaths and inflicted soar. This is the time a nation is tested: Will it further splinter, as each state marches to its own drummers and seeks advantages for its people—or will we learn to act as one nation, e pluribus unum? This is no Pearl Harbor, a one-time attack on our military, but a Blitzkrieg, a relentless, drawn-out, without end in sight, attack on all of us. To paraphrase Churchill: Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if we face severe challenges for a thousand years, people will still say this was their finest hour. 

Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor and professor of international affairs at The George Washington University. He is the author of The Spirit of Community and Reclaiming Patriotism

Image: Reuters