"This is a crisis that's not breaking us from the past but doubling down on the perverted power equations that defined American life the last several decades," he said.
May 6, 2020

Anand Giridharadas has a new show on Vice, and he appeared on Morning Joe today to plug it by offering us the kind of smart, thoughtful analysis that's too often missing on TV news.

He said Jared Kushner's bringing in his private equity buds to run the coronavirus PPE efforts was "bringing in the people who created the problem to solve the problem. The arsonists returning as firefighters."

"The other side of the distribution, this notion of being all in it together, when it is a crisis that is, frankly, in many communities, a black plague, a literal black plague that is killing African Americans disproportionately, in part because people are not listened to in the health care system, in part because of lack of access. A crisis in which people without solid employment prospects who can be fired and not just cost a job but cost them health care, this is a crisis that's not breaking us from the past but doubling down on the perverted power equations that defined American life the last several decades," he said.

"And I will say hopefully this is, hopefully because of that, maybe the only moment in my life thus far there might be enough political imagination in the wake of this to actually transform these things fundamentally."

Willie Geist asked, "What do we learn from this? If we go back to the crises you're referring to, the financial crisis, Katrina, 9/11, we're in the middle of a crisis and say something has to be different. Something has to change so this doesn't happen again. what do you think we learn from this as we look out over the horizon?"

"On the show this week, we actually dig right into that question, of how do we go beyond this?" Giridharadas said.

"We're all in this, but there has to be a beyond. And one of the fundamental questions to me is, what's going to be our relationship to government, the idea of government, after this? We kind of look at it at three levels this week. There's a primordial American tradition going back to the Founders, of being freedom obsessed -- even though we're a country founded on slavery and genocide -- being freedom obsessed to the point that we're always so afraid of the government coming for us that we are blind to other types of threats, whether it's a virus, whether it's bank malfeasance, climate change, what have you.

"And there's also a more recent, kind of 40-year version of this, which is the Reagan war on government, 'government is the problem.' That's not just a problem on the right. There's a hard version on the right, there's also the small 'c" version of it, but it's affected many people in the left in this passive sense in, 'yeah, I believe in government but I would never go work there.' 'Yeah, I believe in government but I kind of like don't like my taxes too high,' or 'I use a trust in the Cayman Islands.'

"And then the most recent Trump-era twist in this, which is, the war on government becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, you undermine government, you undermine it, you put someone who can barely read a sentence in the figure of Donald Trump, and it becomes true, the government sucks because you made it suck by telling everybody it sucks.

"And I think the most important thing that could come out of this is realizing the government is not the biggest threat to our liberty. It can be a threat to our liberty but we're threatened by many, many things. And what government fundamentally does is protect us from a lot of the other oppressions that we in America are often quite blind to."

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