Disunited States

This is a lament over the United States (US), slow but sure move towards becoming the Disunited States (DS). We should learn from the virus that has attacked us so effectively. How could a small, insignificant, living unit, kill so many humans, who are far smarter and stronger than this tiny unit is? Why do some human countries manage to reduce the number of dead hit by this virus, while others, like the US, are failing?

US is a rich and large country. To be sure, it has various different kinds of citizens. But to protect itself from the attack of the virus, this variety of citizens may offer riches and talents that a smaller country may not be able to produce. Where did all the talent and wealth go? Why does the US continue to suffer from the deadly virus similarly to poor, if not the poorest, countries on this earth?

The size of US and its population cannot be the reason. That is because the number of its dead and other virus casualties is proportionately higher than most, if not all, other countries. It may be that, in the future, books will to be written to explain how a wealthy and highly populated country, commanding so many intellectual and physical resources, could be one of the poorest in protecting its citizens against death by the tiny virus.

A review of the history of US reactions might offer a helpful explanation.

  1. The DS leadership’s first reaction was to deny the seriousness of the deadly virus.
  2. In the US, freedom was interpreted to be freedom to do for one’s benefit whatever one wishes. Therefore, the denial of the seriousness of the deadly sickness was not limited to the country’s rulers and institutional management. It was followed by a large part of the population. Thus, this USleadership was followed by many, who for various reasons, relating to their own self-interests found it convenient and desirable to deny the seriousness of the sickness as well.
  3.  Part of the inhabitants and citizens of the DS blamed others for these deadly Pandemic problems. But blaming did not provide a solution to the spread of the virus. Blaming relieved the blamers from responsibility for what they could do to avoid the horrid results. It diverted the victims’ rage form the truly responsible people to others who managed to escape the harm on their own, including the leadership.
  4. It may well be that a number of the younger generation, who seem to be virus carriers, was not seriously concerned by the possibility that they were distributing the virus to the older generation and others, who were more vulnerable. This is, of course, a general statement and should not be considered to cover all young people. Yet, many showed little concern, especially for those older people they did not know.
  5. The fundamental changes, which were required in order to avoid the spread of the virus, were not proposed in time in the DS, and even when they were finally proposed, they were not fully followed.
  6. The leadership in the US carries the name United in name only. The leadership is. hardly united. Competition reigned supreme. In fact, in US, competition was and is considered the best cultural trait for students in learning institutions, as well as in law, in businesses, and by performers in theater, music, and sports. The assumption is that unless people are driven to win recognition over the performance of others, their incentives to excel will be lower. The sport of boxing, which led to the death of the boxers, was for a long time the enjoyable public entertainment. It slowly died with the terrible deaths of the boxers.  But the system has persisted in other contexts.

In sum, the cultural drive of Disunited States is linked to:

  1. Comparing one’s performance with that of others, rather than comparing one’s performance with one’s own potential abilities, and doing the best to achieve it.
  2. Satisfaction by focusing on the faults and failures of competitors, at least as much as the virtues of one’s own performance.
  3. Viewing those who disagree, as enemies to be fought and vanquished.
  4. Winning!!! No matter against whom and at what price to others and to oneself/
  5. No empathy. No feeling for others, who are not as fortunate,
  6. Envy of those who are better endowed and deeming them the targets to fight against.

There are those who might argue that the Disunited State is the model of a democracy. Arguably, however, it is a model of a corrupt democracy. It demonstrates the rise and education of a mob and its membership. It is driven to win over an enemy–i.e. anyone who disagrees or performs better than the mob members. It fights against its own membership, when it is successful, and suffers from its success. It blames others for their suffering.

The following message is a way in which this type of democracy expresses itself to induce “donations.”

“Republicans in Congress turned their backs on our democracy, incited an insurrection, and let Trump off the hook . . . but now some centrist Democrats still want to “reach across the aisle” to work with them. Let me remind you that just this week, zero Republicans voted for Biden’s COVID-19 relief package. Well, I say forget faux “unity.” Forget useless “bipartisanship.” Forget bad-faith “compromise.” It’s time for Democrats to end the filibuster, go it alone, and deliver big change to the American people.

Inequality Media Civic Action is mobilizing our millions of followers across social media to tell Senate Democrats to stop wasting their time negotiating with Mitch McConnell and to immediately end the filibuster. If you agree, will you chip in to help us continue to grow our movement and demand an end to gain a donation

“Not one Republican voted for Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill, even though the bill is supported by 7 in 10 Americans. It’s now clearer than ever that Republicans will NEVER work with Democrats, and the filibuster must go. Please take a minute to check out the email below that I sent out last week and help out if you can. …”  

My neighbor is an old Jewish Republican woman, who has been active in politics both against hatred of Jews and for hatred of Democrats with vehemence. When I called her to ask how she was, she told me, and then began to pour passionate accusations of democrats. They will take my beautiful home, and then cause people to die in various places etc. etc. etc. I stopped her and said: “I love you, even though I am a Democrat,” but that did not stop the tirade. Since it never occurred to me that any Democratic leader would take my home without a very good reason, I tried to stop her by telling her that I loved her even though I am a democrat. Nothing stopped the tirade. Even though I am not a psychiatrist, I suspect that anger can relieve from pain and fear of death. But that did not relieve me of deep sadness. Hatred and a call for hatred are the most effective way in which a Disunited States is bound to destroy itself.  

Tamar Frankel
Professor of Law Emerita
Boston University School of Law

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