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Collective delusion: Why the US remains a colossal mess

I would love to partake, especially in the margaritas, but it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. At all. My grim conclusion is that Americans will divide into two categories: those who throw caution to the wind, with many dying in the process, and those who become permanent shut-ins.

Politicians are meant to solve big problems. But they haven’t done that here. Instead, they’ve turned even mitigating strategies, like mask-wearing, into political acts. (Only liberals wear masks, which is why Mike Pence doesn’t wear one and Joe Biden does.)


When I see images of Australians going back to their offices, enjoying a day at the beach, attending a dinner at a restaurant with nine of their closest friends, I see a people who look after one another. The fact that Australians managed to come up with a cute nickname for the last few months – “iso” – shows the difference in perspective between the two countries.

Good government, regardless of ideological affiliation, creates the freedom not to have to weigh the stakes of every little decision, because someone else, who knows more, did it for you already. Like, for instance, whether a trip to the supermarket to buy baby formula is untenably risky.

The alternative – buying it from Amazon – involves complicity with substandard labour practices. So what is the most ethical, safe thing to do? And when will the baby stop crying? (These are the questions parents all around America will be asking for the indefinite future.)

If I sound a little harried, it’s because I am. I’m also slowly arriving at the realisation that no one is coming to save us. Staying inside is the only way to stay safe. Goodness knows when I’ll be able to get a haircut again.

Politics used to be something I called a hobby, an interest which extended to reading the newspaper and engaging in spirited debate at dinner parties. But now I see how inane (and privileged) that “interest” was. Politics is – ideally – what allows us to live our lives. Or doesn’t, if you happen to reside in the USA in 2020.

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.

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