Authors’ Note

Pandemic 2020

As publishing deadlines pass for The Politics Industry, the world is racing to beat back a nationless, faceless, dangerous adversary: the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Currently, one in four Americans have been ordered to “shelter in place.”1 Metropolitan hospitals are becoming overwhelmed, medical supplies are running short, and getting infected appears to be easier than getting tested. Many predict a trailing economic depression, with impacts that could be more painful for our country than those of the virus itself.2

It is surreal.

There will be a time to review in detail how our public officials responded throughout this crisis. That time is not now. As we fight to “flatten the curve” of infection, there are only three observations we are comfortable sharing.

First, we are yet again dismayed by the hyper-partisanship, the self-interest, and the opportunism the political-industrial complex exhibits—but we are not surprised. We seem paralyzed, no matter the gravity of the situation, by a poisoned politics. There are bright spots within the chaos—certain elected and unelected government officials stepping forward, heroic service by health-care professionals, selfless volunteerism around the country—glimmers of what could be. If only our system weren’t so screwed up at the core.

Second, the obvious system failures that have put millions of Americans at risk over the last weeks and months make it even more apparent that the solutions we prescribe in this book are of critical importance. The threat of the next binary election continues to outweigh at times the pressing concerns of the day when it comes to proactive lawmaking in Congress.

Finally, as with the Cold War, 9/11, and the Great Recession, there will be American children who remember where they were when the news of the coronavirus pandemic first broke and what happened to their families during the nation’s response to it. The pandemic and its aftermath will define generations. But it could also redefine our politics.

When a new normal comes, there will be a moment; a window for big, sweeping change. For the good of all Americans, and to honor those we will have lost and the sacrifices made by so many, we pray that enough of us will put country over party and invest in the political innovation that can revivify our politics with healthy competition—and make sure we don’t get caught unprepared again.

There is a path forward. Let’s take it, together.

—Katherine & Michael
 March 23, 2020

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