We Americans have been rule-breakers, the classic loose nation.
But what happens to a loose nation when the sense of existential security disappears? Over the first two decades of the 21st century, America has lost its sense of safety, the calm confidence that the future is ours, that our institutions are sound or even minimally competent.
And if there was any shred of existential safety left, surely the pandemic has taken it away — around 100,000 dead so far, an economy ravaged. We’ve had threats before, a few foreign incursions like in 1812, even pandemics when America was less just than it is today. But we’ve never had them smack in the middle of a crisis of confidence, a crisis of authority, plus social and spiritual crises all at once.
So in that sense, this is the first invasion of America. This is the first time that a menace has crossed our borders, upended the daily lives of every American and rocked our ancient sense of safety. Welcome to life in the rest of the world.