It feels like there are three versions of America which we see here in London across our shared social media.
The first is the continuing sheer brutality of your police force. In a mature society, it simply is not possible to comprehend what was going through a white policeman’s mind when he shot an entirely innocent black adult in the back seven times in front of his children thus maiming him for life. IN HIS BACK, which would be how your President might have reported the incident on Twitter, but he chose not to mention it or to send his condolences during any of the four speeches he made in the virtual Republican National Convention. He sure has a strange way of understanding what the role of a president was.
Worse though Jacob Blake was handcuffed and had leg irons in the hospital. This was a man paralysed from the waist down. Night after night, right across mostly the poorer states, we see terrifying incidents between white young hooded men acting as vigilantes operating machine guns which could kill an elephant. These ask questions about the very nature of what makes society. It feels from London as if you have given up. It is as though violence is now part of your written constitution.
The second is the absolute corruption which sits at the heart of your political systems, favouring rich people who donate to parties and then are rewarded with high flying government positions. These are unelected representatives taking decisions about your citizens’ lives. How do you square this? And then the way you weight the single votes of your citizens according to the population of each state means a president can be elected without winning the popular vote. It just might be time for an upgrade of your system but neither presidential candidate has once mentioned constitutional reform. It seems as though you are still stuck in the 50s – the 1850s.
The third is you have some of the finest universities, and the most exceptional innovation centres in the world. You have Silicon Valley and copycat cities such as Seattle, Washington, DC, Austin and others; all their work is the envy of the world. You have great sportsmen and women and a love of excellence. You have fabulous architects, artists, writers, and Hollywood. Your scale of innovation shames us. We all tip our hats.
And yet, it seems there is currently no political leadership. America has gone backwards. You have the third worst statistics IN THE WORLD for Covid cases and deaths. You seem proud of it. As though it is a badge to wear whilst innocent people die from a lack of 21st century care. You frighten us. And by the by, it feels to us as if you are happy to concede the 21st century to China.
Of course, things aren’t great here either. We have a Government which has failed to govern for the past twelve months. We are due to leave the EU in four months time, probably without a deal. We too are in a bad place, but at the height of our pandemic our Health service – free to all – held firm and was an example to us all, even if our death rates were the second worst in the world only after Belgium. Our government failed us too.