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Realizing the Great Realization

In few countries has the COVID-19 crisis fueled political polarization as much as it has in the United States. Yet the US is also a country where policymaking in at least three areas may be headed in a less confrontational and more positive direction – precisely because the pandemic is so awful that it forces us to rethink everything.

WASHINGTON, DC – In “The Great Realisation,” a compelling four-minute video, the poet Tomos Roberts (aka Tom Foolery) suggests a potential silver lining to the COVID-19 cataclysm. By forcing us to slow down, literally and metaphorically, we may now see the world differently – the cost of pollution, the value of personal connection, the pleasure of being outdoors (with clean air) – and start being kinder to each other and to the planet. Writ large, such change could lead to more constructive policy solutions.

This is obviously an optimistic view, and it is easy to poke holes in it. For example, the refusal by many in the United States to accept the November 2020 presidential election result, which fueled the lethal attack on the US Capitol on January 6, points to a rise in destructive behavior. Nevertheless, the US is also a country where policymaking in at least three areas may already be headed in a less confrontational, more positive direction – precisely because the pandemic is so awful that it forces us to rethink everything.

First, there is widespread support for extending short-term financial support to people hurt by the pandemic. There is, no surprise, some predictable opposition to the $1.9 trillion package currently on the table, including from those who think that so much spending will saddle the US with too much government debt.

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