Two major American assets I didn’t list, and should have, were weather and time. America’s weather was more favorable to fighting covid-19 because more of our landmass falls in southern latitudes where it’s comfortable, for most of the year, to spend time outside. Moreover, we had time to figure all that out, because Europe got hit hard first, giving us a valuable preview of horrors to come. That bought us priceless extra days — only we squandered them and every other advantage we started with.
Sure, America doesn’t have the absolute worst death rate in the industrialized world — not yet, anyway. I’m not sure we’ll be able to say that after Americans celebrate our extra fall holiday, then leap from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Either way, we’ll still be doing much worse than we could have — and much worse than we should have. And I mean all of us, not just President Trump.
Yes, Trump was by far the worst bungler in this whole affair. But there is plenty of blame to go around: the public health folks who told us not to wear masks; the journalists who told us to worry about the flu or racism or anything except the pandemic spreading out of China; the politicians who didn’t pass enough stimulus; the skeptics who refused to revise their skepticism when new evidence emerged; the refuseniks who treated their own noncompliance as proof that distancing measures can’t work; anyone who treated a forecasting model as a proven fact; everyone who blessed some gatherings while condemning others; the Republicans who humored Trump; the teacher unions and governments that pushed unnecessary, damaging school closures; everyone, left or right, who turned this into a political battle with their fellow Americans, rather than a desperate fight our country needed to unite to win.