Trump said yesterday that his administration is “developing a plan” to address the coronavirus. Tell that to the 140,000 dead and their grieving families. Or to vulnerable seniors. Or to communities of color who have experienced the heaviest loss of life. Or to first responders and essential workers.
An inflection point, as this moment arguably is, requires not only big solutions, but also – and no less importantly – expansive and broadly constructed politics.
Once again we are going through another momentous re-imagining and remaking our society, economy, and culture. While it didn’t begin with the interlocking political, economic, and health crises that tightly grip the country or the sudden, sustained, and massive marches protesting the brutal murder of George Floyd, both greatly accelerate this process.
This crisis like earlier crises in the 20th century will be resolved politically, that is, in the course of a fierce political struggle between contending political blocs and coalitions. And there is little doubt that the outcome of the November elections will play an over sized role in determining the outcome this crisis, with the winner gaining enormous advantage over the loser to shape and reshape the future.
The principal role of the left is to lend its energy and ideas to the empowerment of much larger class and social constituencies. In doing so it gains in experience and understanding as well as earns its leadership credentials in this wider social-political complex. Any idea that the left on its own can effect major social transformations finds no historical confirmation.
That understanding should deeply inform the politics of the left in these tumultuous times, when racial and class inequalities are so evident and the opportunity to clear the way for a new era of progress is within reach, only a election away.
And yet more than a few conversations on the left are primarily focused on the building of its own power apart from broader and powerful forces of social change.
As the pandemic invisibly and remorselessly cuts its way across the country, it creates a low, sometimes high grade, feeling of helplessness and despair as well as fear. And these feelings are only heightened by the massive incompetence, willful ignorance, unbounded narcissism, and white nationalist authoritarian personality of Trump. November can’t come soon enough.