Sooner or later American life will have to get back to something like normal, but it looks like it will be much later. The coronavirus seems likely to be around past the summer, and the economy won’t start to recover until it’s gone, and the unrest on the streets don’t seem likely to abate until after the election.
For the first time since 1972 the charming little town of Winfield, Kansas, won’t be hosting the annual Walnut Valley Festival, a weeklong acoustic music event that all of our folkie friends look forward to with a passion. The massive hootenanny is another victim of the coronavirus, although the event is annually held in mid-September, so the state and local health officials have decided the risk of further infections will persist until at least then. If so, the schools won’t be able to reopen at the traditional start of the school year, and all the school districts are currently trying to figure out what to do about that.
Which means that all the recently semi-reopened businesses won’t be back to their pre-coronavirus levels of activity, leaving a lot of people still out work, with various ripple effects across the wider economy.
Which in turn will exacerbate the anger that’s being expressed both peacefully and violently in pretty much every American city. President Donald Trump is hoping to quell the discontent with an overwhelming show of force, but so far that hasn’t seemed to pacify those protesting and rioting against police brutality, and the president is clearly more interested in exploiting the country’s political divisions than in healing him.
According to all the recent polling, the strategy isn’t working for them. If you’re inclined to dismiss the polls as “fake news,” there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to support their conclusions. Another big story here in Wichita on Thursday was presidential advisor and First Daughter Ivanka Trump being invited to give a commencement speech to Wichita State University technical school, then quickly being disinvited after a deluge of angry phone calls in this traditionally conservative and Republican city.
Everything that’s going on will make it difficult for both major parties to hold their conventions in the traditional fashion, although Trump is determined to find a state where can do so, whatever the health risks to conventioneers and the likelihood of a bloody clash between protestors and police like happened in Chicago in 1968. The election might also need to be done with voting by mail, and Trump is also arguing that results would be rigged, which the 35-to-40 percent of the country that still adores him will believe.
Even after the coronavirus runs its course and everything’s reopened and the streets are relatively quiet, we expect that even then American life won’t be back to something like normal.
— Bud Norman