The US president is using the pandemic to mobilize his clientele. The USA would be infinitely stronger if it stood together in the crisis.
So if it is true that Corona amplifies extremes in a political system, if good governments govern better and bad governments worse and worse, if dysfunctional bureaucracies collapse and organized communities manage the crisis properly – then no country in the world will suffer worse from Corona than the United States. The struggle of extremes has been raging here for years, which is why the country is perhaps the most polarized community among democracies.
The polarization of the United States is not Donald Trump’s invention and has only marginally to do with the poor-rich opposition, which is almost already laid down as a constitutional principle. American society is highly individualistic and freedom-loving on the one hand, but also extremely solidarity and closed, especially in crises. On the one hand, American politics is uncomfortably competitive and destructive, especially on the federal level, and on the other hand – especially in the federal America of the states – pragmatic and capable of compromise. Yes, there is the narcissist in chief but there are also governors who are currently fighting self-consciously and responsibly against Corona and are overwhelmed by expressions of sympathy.
So if the president puts pressure not only on the governors of the states ruled by Democrats in his daily entertainment show from the White House, when he calls for “liberation”, as if the country were under foreign occupation, if he did provide factual guidelines for the easing who issues restrictions but refuses help with tests or hospital beds a few minutes later – then that’s the typically leaping Trump, the only constant of which is his unpredictability. Trump has finally gotten hold of the virus, he is attacking it with his political tool, which has already given him the presidency and which he is the only one who has mastered reliably: he splits and polarizes.
In the case of the governors, he does it so well because he does not have to take voters into account in the states dominated by democrats. Trump only wants to mobilize his clientele, and they are not based in New York or Chicago.
America has always been receptive to the great reconciler. Is his name Joe Biden?
The core of the American government problem – be it in dealing with the pandemic or as a world leader – in the polarization of the country. Trump has taken advantage of this division throughout his life, brought him into the office and determined his dealings with the authorities, federal institutions, science and the world outside the United States. No president before him has drawn so much power from the argument.
However, this is also true: in moments of national tragedy, the United States has always developed undreamed-of powers when the powerful figure at the head of the country played out its reconciling effect. From Roosevelt to Obama, the story is full of examples, like a president all Americans could benefit from crises and strengthen the country. What is certain is that Trump is not such a president. But because the country is receptive to the messianic leader in need, the market gap is widening. Will Joe Biden be able to fill them?