YOU EVER GO TO THE STORE AND WONDER if buying the store brand superglue, which is cheaper than the brand name, will do the same job in keeping everything together? And then you find about six days later the item you used the glue on is broken again.
You start wondering to yourself “maybe I should have just bought the brand name and bit the bullet”, as you look at your broken item again, with the glue dried out, forcing you to go out again and buy a new tube – this time the brand name.
I think that is what politicians around the United States, and here in Hawaii are feeling these days about their quickly devolving authority over people.
The political superglue that they bought – in the form of proclamations of lockdown followed up by dire-sounding statements by “educated” authorities about COVID-19 spreading, it seems didn’t last long.
From all impressions looking back, it seems that this formula worked to keep society together for about two weeks. If you recall from about the beginning of April to about the 20th, American society by and large was following the rules when it came to staying at home and listening to the authorities that squashing the spike in virus infections was key.
And then the weakening of the glue started happening. It started with a low, but notable grumble by some to start a plan to reverse the lockdown and start opening up the economy. Even this author wrote letters to the Governor of Hawaii and Mayor of Honolulu, stating just that.
The noise became more by the end of May.
Then, politicians being who they are, decided that the only way to keep things together was to use more of the cheap glue – this time in the form of extending and “mildly modifying” the proclamations – to keep everyone inside. They said “we need more time” and rewarded the people with the ability to go to parks, and in the case of Hawaii, actually walk on public beaches again.
And that lasted a bit longer. But it turned out what was happening was that the politicians, for the life of them, kept on squeezing the tube harder, trying to get all the glue out. They compromised and started coming up with colourful charts that outlined what a reopening would look like. They started using words like “safer” rather than “stay” and kept the narrative of reopening at the top of the news cycle with their press conferences.
The glue in the tube was running out, and while we didn’t know it at the time, an event that lasted exactly 8 minutes and 46 seconds would take what politicians were trying to keep together and pulverize it into powder
SOCIETY THAT WAS SOMEWHAT TOGETHER with this political superglue over the pandemic was destroyed by four police officers in Minnesota over the arrest of George Floyd. Their actions picked up this tenuous item that was tenuously together, and chucked it at high speed at the brick wall of American tolerance, shattering it in a million pieces.
If anyone is of the impression that the durability of government and law enforcement authorities is still as solid as it was, say, back at the beginning of May, I am here to tell you that impression is now dead wrong.
Politicians who are now trying to keep their cities from being burned down, are at a crossroads of what they can and cannot do with a society that has been rocked by their actions and torn apart by the actions of their police forces. Any discussion right now of “re-imposing” lockdowns due to a purported second wave of the virus will have to also wonder if they have any moral high ground left to even order that.
The answer seems to be “no” with those in large cities across the United States telling authorities “hell no”. It seems that authorities are heeding that answer by chucking any call for “social distancing” during the demonstrations and riots, and not imposing any military-level order to get people back into their homes. Even the curfews that authorities ordered on large cities like New York and Los Angles were summarily ignored.
SO WHERE DOES SOCIETY GO FROM HERE when it’s shattered on the ground, broken in a billion pieces and no one cares at this point in putting it back together? Where does society go when authority is ignored, destruction is celebrated and hashtags are what wannabe politicians use to gain eyeballs for their campaigns for office?
It’s been said that America endured society destroying crises before and seemed to have survived. A lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of effort went into putting society back together whenever it was torn apart and the country kept ongoing. It happened before, and it’s a good bet that it will happen again.
The country bounces back, its society figures out how to piece itself back together, the country learns a new normal in dealing with itself. Sometimes that takes an election that radically changes the political landscape. Sometimes it’s just asking everyone to calm down and listen to the quiet voices of peace that are begging to be heard.
And maybe it’s just as simple as government officials figuring out that maybe the best thing to do is to reopen society and its institutions and get people back to work.
Whichever way we move forward, one last bit of advice for politicians is that when you go with the cheap political superglue to achieve a very temporary goal, without a plan, don’t expect it to last too long.
Don’t go with the cheap glue next time.