by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As we struggle to defeat the coronavirus, an aroused America is talking grandly of restructuring the U.S. economy.
Politicians promise that major industries — pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, rare earths, military technologies — will return home to create millions of new jobs and better protect the population in times of crisis. …
… Post-virus America can awake from this epidemic and economic shutdown in one of two different ways.
One, we can wake up as we did on December 8, 1941, to ensure that Americans control their own fundamentals of life — food, fuel, medicine, and strategic industries — without dependency on illiberal regimes. The military can refocus our defenses against nuclear missiles, cyberwarfare, and biological weapons. On the home front, diversity is fine, but in a national crisis as serious as this one, the unity that arises from confidence in shared American citizenship saves lives.
Our other choice is to keep bickering and suffering amnesia, remaining as vulnerable as we were in the past.
We can scapegoat and play the blame game. We can talk not of an America in crisis, but of the virus’ effects on particular groups. We can decide that it is mean or even racist and xenophobic to hold the Chinese government accountable for its swath of viral destruction — and so we will not.
We can ridicule the idea of Americans again making their own things and call it protectionism or economic chauvinism. We can conduct endless congressional inquiries about who said what and when about the virus, and perhaps reopen impeachment.
Or we can have bipartisan commissions decide how best to return key industries to the U.S., prepare for the next epidemic, and pay down the enormous debt we have incurred to defeat COVID-19.
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