President Donald Trump opened his April 13 coronavirus news briefing with a video compilation of media clips touted his pandemic-fighting achievements. Team Trump had selectively cut and edited quotes from journalists and governors, who had regularly cited the dangerous lack of White House support during the pandemic, so they appeared to praise his leadership.
I hadn’t seen anything like this sort of propaganda display since the 1980s Soviet Union. I was suddenly transported back 40 years to my childhood, watching on TV as the aging Soviet patriarch Leonid Brezhnev endlessly pinned medals to his own chest.
Today’s COVID-19 reality has, in similar fashion, exposed many of America’s sores of inequality as the virus ravages communities of color and deepens the economic divide between the wealthy and everyone else. The United States could likely learn a great deal from the Soviet Union’s attempted program of serious reconstruction - which exposed the Kremlin’s decades of lies and sought to address them.
Even so, the pandemic has ripped away America’s delusion of eternally winning - perfected to absurdity by Trump - and exposed staggering economic inequality and racial discrimination across the nation.
This coronavirus experience could lead to an American version of Perestroika. The United States has a better chance than the Soviet Union to pull through. The world misses Washington’s leadership, which had won over so many people around the globe during the Cold War. This leadership will become even more convincing if it comes from the renewed United States - one that values social wellbeing of the public before the profits of the few.
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