America is an amazing place. We are in the midst of a battle for control of our government, for living according to laws we accept as tradition, or throwing our history overboard to install an arriviste in a position of authoritarian rule in America. But if you look at our media you would never know this is an existential moment for our national governance. Life goes on. We discuss TV, movies, music. We gossip about our celebrities. We live in our COVID bubbles and privately mourn the deaths of thousands, the ruin of our economy, the closure of our favorite restaurant. But our emotions are so overexercised that we have difficulty distinguishing between what is possibly devastating and what is simply titillating.
Was Joy Behar rude to Megan McCain?
Justin Beiber’s new song “Holy” is great!
What is Justin Beiber doing on Shark Tank?
What was that guy in the Capitol riot/demonstration intending to do with those zip ties?
Is the revolution over?
Are we running out of oxygen?
Was Megan McCain rude to Joy Behar?
The mail is really running late isn’t it?
All these things are discussed by Americans with the same intensity every day, a reminder of how big America is in terms of geographical area, and how diverse it is. For politics we may break into two segments, but for daily amusements our disagreements are far less tribal. There seem to be no other nations except America these days. The rest of the world has just sort of disappeared.
America almost lost its collective mind without sports. Now withdrawal symptoms are soothed by watching college children risk getting the virus with possibly serious outcomes so we can see those college basketball games or football games or soccer games. These are young healthy people we reason. They’ll be fine. We limp along with professional sports contests that are cancelled or rescheduled more often than they are played. But America is gleeful and tranquillized. Our sports are back!
It seems likely that our government could change completely; that Trump’s troops could win out and he would govern once again, and America would hardly notice. If we all get vaccinated this will be even more true. Oh, our favorite restaurant reopened. Look, the real Academy Awards, in person, back on the red carpet. There will probably be a lot of political speeches but we’ll suffer through that. We can go to the movies again, in person. Movie theaters were in trouble before the pandemic and people will not save them in the long run, but they may go in droves at first, unless all the theaters are bankrupt. Terrorism at the movies – that will be a thing of the past. Maybe.
People will get the travel bug again and go cruising and driving and flying. Can’t wait, they all say. It will be difficult to make anyone take changes happening to earth’s environments seriously with all this normality happening. We are resilient. We are shallow people who enjoy our pleasures. Life will go on regardless of who is in the White House. Is this how we let 244 years of history slip through our fingers? After all, America will still seem the same in many ways (until it doesn’t). Can an entire nation blithely survive by simply ignoring serious things like pandemics and political coups as long as they can swim up to a bar? We might be the first nation in the history of the world to pull off anarchy. As long as the economy is doing well nothing else matters. What if you staged a revolution and no one noticed? We may find out.