Professor Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security, wrote an op-ed that ran in The Nation and TomDispatch on the country’s response to COVID-19 and how it destroyed the myth of American Exceptionalism.
In many ways, the current crisis has, of course, just exposed conditions that should have been attended to long ago. Much that suddenly seems broken was already on the brink when the coronavirus appeared. If anything, the pandemic has simply accelerated already existing trends. As a December 2019 Century Foundation report on “racism, inequality, and health care for African Americans” concluded, “The American health care system is beset with inequalities that have a disproportionate impact on people of color and other marginalized groups.” In fact, in 2019, the London-based Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index had already ranked the American health care system 59th in the world for its standard of services.
With Covid-19, the very idea of American exceptionalism may have seen its last days. The virus has put the realities of wealth inequality, health insecurity, and poor work conditions under a high-powered microscope. Fading from sight are the days when this country’s engagement with the world could be touted as a triumph of leadership when it came to health, economic sustenance, democratic governance, and stability. Now, we are inside the community of nations in a grim new way—as fellow patients, grievers, and supplicants in search of food and shelter, in search, along with so much of humanity, of a more secure existence.