Anatomy of an American Failure Reply

Ed Young highlights the myriad of ways the pandemic has been mishandled in his article, An Anatomy of American Failure. He highlights the intersection of problems that have exacerbated the pandemic, such as weak public health infrastructure, conspiracy theories, and a tenuously connected global supply chain. Moreover, the pandemic has disproportionately affected minority communities, such as African Americans, the elderly, and immunocompromised. All of these factors have created an almost apocalyptic landscape for many Americans. 

Additionally, Young also highlights the role the president had in determining the scale of the pandemic. As he says “Trump is a comorbidity of the COVID‑19 pandemic. He isn’t solely responsible for America’s fiasco, but he is central to it”. This is an undeniable fact about the pandemic. In a time of crisis, a leader is supposed to ensure safety to all people – not just his supporters. By any standard, Trump’s actions have been unethical. Though Young doesn’t touch on this, he robbed the American people of informed consent when he lied about the danger of COVID-19. In February, he publically downplayed COVID-19 as only being as dangerous as the flu while privately confessing to Bob Woodward that it was a seriously deadly disease. Some may say Trump didn’t have a moral obligation to disclose this information as he isn’t a medical professional, but as Commander in Chief, I feel he takes on the same level of responsibility for the entirety of the American people.

Though this is a turbulent time, I feel it is quintessential that we evaluate the morals of our elected leaders today. Putting aside political affiliations, Ed Young lays bare the myriad of ways Trump has acted unethically – just concerning the pandemic. With this in mind, it is important to consider how we ought to move forward as a county. In this class, we have been tools to evaluate actions plainly as being ethical or unethical. We have analyzed case studies and debated them in class, but these are real tools that we can use outside the classroom. Thus, as we wait to see what the future of our country holds, I urge everyone to truly evaluate his actions. Simultaneously, I wonder, beyond political action, how we can repair the damage this administration has caused and restore trust in our public health system? Currently, I am overwhelmed by watching the election results and have no idea how we can move past this politicization of the pandemic. If anyone could offer a sliver of comfort, it would be greatly appreciated. 

2 thoughts on “Anatomy of an American Failure Reply

  1. Clio Hancock

    In J’s response, she articulates the shortcomings of recent American politicians in fulfilling their duty of service to the general public. She focuses on the importance of morally evaluating those in charge so that citizens can assess whether their actions are truly benefiting the people. As discussed in class, the importance of Aristotelian “happiness” and human flourishing takes center stage when thinking about how politicians respond to the will of the people. Prioritizing overall flourishing and success of a society is what makes a good society in Aristotle’s view. This means that as citizens, we can only succeed as much as the ruling powers allow, but it is hardly this simple. The United States is not a place where citizens can flourish–instead, the United States is a place where select citizens can succeed through the systematic oppression of others. By rigorously evaluating those in power, we can continue to assess whether politicians are actively working to dismantle this exploitative structure or instead further entrenching these patterns. In answer to her question about decreasing polarization, I think the solution lies in helping citizens understand their role bettering the well-being of an entire society, instead of centering voters as individuals with no concern for the success of others. This election leaves many questions about the state of this country, but I think refocusing on moral principles of community could begin a long-overdue healing process in this country. This leaves the question of how to best initiate this moral reckoning and healing in a way that brings the country together instead of furthering a divide.

  2. Jess Ferguson

    Now that the election results have finally been calculated, I believe that J’s question of how we should move forward as a country has been somewhat answered by the American people. Record numbers of voters participated in this election, showing that they clearly want their voices to be heard. People celebrated Biden’s victory in the streets, many speaking to news anchors about their newfound hope in the government and overall excitement. Through this election, the American people voted against the incompetence that Yong mentioned. As the Commander in Chief, I do agree that it was Trump’s moral duty to act on more utilitarian principles and reduce the social pain of American citizens. Trump’s handling of COVID-19 showed that both the governmental structures and healthcare system were not prepared, rendering the entire country ill-prepared to tackle this pandemic. The public health system has so many deep-rooted, systemic issues that I do not know if the damage will ever be completely fixed, or the trust completely restored. This incompetence led to inequality, with people of color having the highest number of COVID-19 cases. With so many questions that America’s incompetent leader left unanswered, false information spread like wildfire throughout the country, leaving citizens without answers. The election of Joe Biden shows that the incompetency has been recognized, which will hopefully allow it to be addressed. He has pledged to create a COVID-19 task force, but will not be able to actually mobilize it until after he is officially sworn in. With so much time between now and January 20th, I have begun to question if the opportunity to effectively combat the pandemic has passed. Public health officials have warned us that the winter months will be terrible for the virus, so the thought of waiting two more months for Biden’s plan seems detrimental. During his victory speech, Biden pledged to be the President of the people by encouraging cooperation above a party agenda. Though seeing Biden get elected filled me with hope, I do hope that government officials will actually embrace this message and make the changes that will help the American people.


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