Will the pandemic remake American politics?


Conrad Black’s book, “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom”, authoritatively manages to revise our image of this most famous and important man.

Attacked at the time as being a socialist or a revolutionary intent on remaking American society along Bolshevik lines, Black sees Roosevelt instead for what he really was: a great leader determined to save capitalism from the great mistakes of the elite class itself.

But Roosevelt only had the chance to implement his New Deal programs because of the sea change that emerged in American politics following the Great Depression. As FDR said, “The country needs and, unless my temperament is mistaken, the country demands bold and persistent experimentation” to extricate itself from the economic calamity that has befallen it.

As such, Roosevelt ushered in an era characterized by the unprecedented expansion of government into all aspects of the lives of the American people, as the earlier and failed laissez-faire efforts of Herbert Hoover and the hapless Republicans did not had done little to alleviate the economic suffering of the country. after the stock market crash of 1929.

Roosevelt’s ascendancy and the course correction in American politics that followed the economic crisis led the Democrats to take the White House for five consecutive elections from 1932 to 1952 and triumph in seven of nine presidential contests leading up to 1968. This age of big government could never have come into existence, as Black rightly argues in his book, without the fundamental shift in American politics that occurred in the wake of the Great Depression.

Currently, the U.S. government’s egregious failures in handling the COVID-19 pandemic have me wondering aloud if another such policy shift is upon us. Because the great confinement that Americans have all just endured following two years of failed government policy has clearly not worked.

The country’s lockdown – originally designed simply as a stopgap measure to keep our beleaguered healthcare system afloat during the difficult early days of the pandemic in March 2020 – failed to stop the spread of the virus or to prevent the tragically high number of deaths that followed.

At the same time, the actions of Western governments in blindly making the lockdown tactic a single, enduring policy – ​​despite stark differences in how age primarily determined COVID outcomes, and even the differing characteristics of different variants of the virus – have caused undisputed damage to Western economies.

The global economy as a whole could suffer $35 trillion in losses by 2025, according to McKinsey. if it suffocated the global economy.

There is also no doubt that the billions of dollars in new spending by the US government, intended to compensate for a workforce that has been artificially sent home for much of the past two years, has unleashed the beast of the inflation on the United States, which has been successfully chained for two generations through the heroic efforts of former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and President Ronald Reagan.

As former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers makes clear, the U.S. government cannot increase new government spending by about 14-15% of gross domestic product in an economy that is running just below pre-strength. COVID-19 and not expect to boost inflation. It is as simple and as devastating as that.

The social costs of lockdown are also becoming clearer and they are just as pernicious. In terms of individual freedom, Western governments – fundamentally misunderstanding the fundamental Lockean nature of representative democracy, that an individual’s basic rights come from nature and not from the state – have instead overturned the system in ways disconcerting. Only if an individual did what the government demanded was he somehow “worthy” of his rights as a citizen.

The Supreme Court has seen the worst aspects of Biden’s overreach of vaccine mandates, but there is no doubt that the American ruling class believed that anyone did not entirely swallow Dr. Anthony Fauci was somehow less of an American.

At the same time, the American government was becoming more authoritarian, it was becoming less competent. There has been a huge upsurge in violent crime across the country, while teachers’ unions have shamefully emerged as the villain of the pandemic, collectively searching for any excuse to run homeschooling for beleaguered parents. rather than doing their job.

Anyone who’s been around kids for about five minutes lately knows that no amount of future grade inflation can obscure the painful reality that we adults have morally failed the next generation, and that both socially and in terms of actual learning, they are years behind. . We will pay for this for decades.

Indeed, what people will remember most from this historic global crisis is not the tragedy of COVID-19 itself, horrific as it has been. Instead, above all else, they will tell of the utter incompetence and recklessness of the ruling elite, which made a terrible situation worse.

The 2022 midterms are sure to lead to big Republican gains. But if I’m right, what’s to come is much more than that. There may well be a political turning point ahead, another FDR-like sea change – and America’s left-wing elite isn’t going to like it.

  • John C. Hulsman is President and Managing Partner of John C. Hulsman Enterprises, a leading global political risk advisory firm. He is also a senior columnist for City AM, the City of London newspaper. He can be contacted via johnhulsman.substack.com.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News

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