Even though the U.S. infection rate is now over 200,000 per day, several effective vaccines are near approval by the FDA. Distribution to both front-line healthcare workers and nursing home residents could begin in a few weeks. In other words, we are likely over the hump and relief will arrive soon.
(On a personal note, I live in Omaha and, even though the Nebraska infection rate is relatively high at 69,000 per million residents, I feel very safe in Omaha with its mask mandate. Many other Nebraska cities have mask mandates as well. Furthermore, the Nebraska unemployment rate is now down to 3% (for October), the lowest in the nation. In other words, Nebraska is handling the pandemic quite successfully.)
In my last post, I expressed great optimism for the future of the “American project.” For sure, there are always ways to improve society. But there are also several significant issues on the horizon whose sensible resolution will provide much more stability going forward:
- The national debt is now growing rapidly (partly because of the pandemic) and is essentially out of control. There are many reasons (which I will be discussing in detail soon) why debt control is so urgent. It is not yet clear whether the new Biden administration will take debt seriously as the economy recovers.
- Populism and nationalism aren’t going away just because Trump was defeated for reelection. Simply put, this means paying more attention to the problems of ordinary, working-class Americans and worrying less about the rest of the world.
- Polarization in national politics. National officeholders reflect the views of the polarized constituents who support them. Polarization should substantially decrease if the Republicans maintain control of the Senate after the Georgia runoff elections. This will force President Biden to work closely with the Republican majority in the Senate.
Conclusion. The political success of the supposedly unqualified Donald Trump means that populism and nationalism will continue to be addressed by political leaders. Likewise, polarization will likely decrease if the voters continue to support divided government. Debt is thus our biggest problem. Without requiring a balanced budget, as all the states do, national officeholders are always under political pressure to spend more rather than to spend less.