Tribalism and the pandemic

One of the great victories of modern society is that it removed risk and uncertainty from the daily lives of most people. Inadvertently, however, that deprived them of the experience of collaborating with one another; very few Americans imagine that they, individually, are critical to the nation’s survival. (The entire point of a nation, in fact, is to spread risk out so that no one person or group is indispensable.) The coronavirus has changed that almost overnight. Not only can one infected individual infect dozens of others, but every demographic in the country must be enlisted to help fight the disease. This interdependence may finally put to rest the idea that any one group is more essential to our country than any other.

Are you a liberal who believes that Trump and his supporters created this crisis by not taking it seriously? Fine — but eventually you’re going to need them on board to help protect you and your loved ones from the disease. Are you a conservative who believes that immigrants and socialists are destroying this country? You can self-quarantine all you want, but that won’t save you unless those groups do too.

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