The virus is the ruling fact of life now and into the foreseeable future. When something is a fact, then you can either deny it or deal with it. Hard to deny the virus when it is killing more than a thousand Americans every day, has shut down great swaths of commerce, confined millions to their homes, and bled optimism from the body politic. The national mood was rancorous and angry before the epidemic. Now, it is toxic.

And with perfectly satanic timing, the country is gearing up for an undertaking that is just about guaranteed to make things worse: a presidential election.

The campaigns of Joe Biden and Donald Trump are unlikely to be inspiring, uplifting, or unifying. Neither candidate is a fresh face, presenting himself to the country as the voice and the hope of a new generation. Both men are in their 70’s and very few Americans can remember a time when they were not in the news. They both carry what is euphemistically called “baggage,” and both are surrounded by the usual courtiers and sycophants hungry for a taste of power. Both will make extravagant promises with no real idea of how to deliver on them. After the trillions spent so far to keep the economy afloat during the epidemic, where will the money come from?

And, then, even if we had the money, who honestly believes that Washington has the ability to spend it in ways that will cure the nation’s ills? We have been trying since the 60’s and the “Great Society.” Back then, we had an excuse. We were naive. It was all new territory. Now it is familiar, desolate ground. Both candidates will promise to make it bloom with a million blossoms. Nobody will believe them.

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