Two pieces caught my eye this week, one telling us that things will get better, and the other...well...
First, a letter from New Yorker London correspondent Mollie Panter-Downes—sent 14 September 1940, the 14th day of the London Blitz:
In getting about, one first learns that a bomb has fallen near at hand by coming upon barriers across roads and encountering policemen who point to yellow tin signs which read simply “Diversion,” as though the blockage had been caused by workmen peacefully taking up drains ahead. The “diversion” in Regent Street, where a bomb fell just outside the Café Royal and did not explode for hours, cut off the surrounding streets and made the neighborhood as quiet as a hamlet. Crowds collected behind the ropes to gaze respectfully at the experts, who stood looking down into the crater and chatting as nonchalantly as plumbers discussing the best way of fixing a leaking tap. Police went around getting occupants out of the buildings in the vicinity and warning them to leave their windows open, but even with this precaution, when the bomb finally went off that evening there were not many panes of glass left.
The scene next morning was quite extraordinarily eerie. The great sweep of Regent Street, deserted by everyone except police and salvage workers, stared gauntly like a thoroughfare in a dead city. It would have been no surprise to see grass growing up out of the pavements, which were covered instead with a fine, frosty glitter of powdered glass. The noise of glass being hammered out of upper windows, swept into piles at street corners, and shovelled into municipal dust vans made a curious grinding tinkle which went on most of the day. The happiest people there were two little boys who had discovered a sweet shop where most of the window display had been blown into the gutter, and who were doing a fine looting job among the debris.
Londoners kept the British end up, and got through it, though it took the UK 18 years before post-war debt fell below 100% of GDP.
The second, from Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman, reminds us that the Republican Party doesn't believe in the legitimacy of a Democratic government. So we should expect GOP intransigence and sabotage throughout the Biden administration:
We’ve been here before, and not that long ago. After the 2008 election but before Barack Obama took office, Time magazine put him on its cover photoshopped as FDR, under the headline “The New New Deal.” But while he did pass a string of significant legislation utilizing government power early in his presidency — a large stimulus bill, Wall Street reform, saving the auto industry, ending bank profiteering on student loans, the Affordable Care Act — two years later Republicans took back the House and ground it all to a halt.
You can bet that Republicans will be holding strategy meetings and fielding polls and writing reports to determine not just how to stop Americans from becoming more open to expansive government action, but how to turn this crisis into anger at government itself....
America’s response to this pandemic was so awful not just because Trump is incompetent, but because conservative you’re-all-on-your-own philosophy was put into practice in ways that left us all vulnerable. In so many ways what we’re suffering through now, both in public health and economically, is a failure of conservatism.
Republicans know that the public might arrive at that conclusion — and they’re working to make sure it doesn’t happen. Democrats need to work just as hard to make sure it does.
This is what I wrote about this morning. Remember: The Democratic Party wants to govern, the Republican Party wants to rule.