David Litt, a former speechwriter for then U.S. President Barack Obama, has said the spread of COVID-19 which has so far claimed nearly 100,000 lives in the United States is a failure of democracy at the root.
“It’s become commonplace to refer to COVID-19 as ‘the worst public health crisis of our lifetimes.’ But what has cost the United States so many lives and jobs during the pandemic is not, at root, a failure of public health. It’s a failure of democracy,” Litt wrote in an article published by Time magazine this week.
“Poll after poll has shown that a clear majority of Americans trust, want our leaders to heed the experts’ advice. Yet that hasn’t happened. We were far too slow to implement social-distancing guidelines — a delay epidemiologists found is responsible for 90 percent of U.S. coronavirus deaths,” he said.
“Now we’re acting far too quickly to reopen the economy,” he added.
Dozens of U.S. states have rolled out reopening plans in late April, with Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas among the first to allow certain nonessential businesses to resume operations.
The writer pointed out that lower-income and non-white Americans are those most likely to suffer from the U.S. government’s flailing response to the coronavirus.
Citing a report analyzing the changes in the U.S. political map in recent years from the University of Chicago’s Law Review, Litt said “Americans’ political power has been further diminished.”
“As we battle the coronavirus, American lives depend on a successful government response. But with rare exceptions, House Members’ jobs do not,” he said.
“In early March, for example, as the virus was spreading, the first 15 U.S. states to report cases of the coronavirus accounted for 56 percent of America’s population but only 30 percent of America’s senators. No wonder the Senate was initially slow to act,” he said.
So as of Friday night, the United States has reported over 1.6 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Furthermore, Litt said “the corporations’ increasing clout with policymakers” has pushed the U.S. government into acting more slowly and reopening more quickly than the American people believe is safe.
That capitalistic influence has more influence on policymaking than the people’s welfare, in Litt’s view, is “no surprise.”
“From the way we manage elections to the way we fund campaigns, from the congressional districts we draw to the lobbyists we include in the policymaking process, the story is the same,” he said.
“The American republic is a government of fewer people, by fewer people, for fewer people than at any time in the past half-century. And We, the People, are suffering because of it,” Litt concluded.
Litt is the author of “Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think” as well as “Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years.”