Of course all of these elements interact with each other in ways that are easy to imagine but difficult to really pin down: The lockdowns increased the population of idle young men with circumscribed social lives, which is generally dangerous; the lockdowns coincided with an increase in alcohol consumption, which is very strongly linked to domestic violence; the lead-up to the election saw a significant increase in first-time gun ownership and mirror-image apocalyptic political tendencies on either side of the political spectrum; the riots produced both an atmosphere of lawlessness and an exaggerated sense of vulnerability; the coronavirus epidemic stimulated the End Times sensibility that is always present, if just beneath the surface, in American culture.
Much of the summer was taken up by irresponsible right-wing media figures warning of a second civil war and irresponsible left-wing activists endeavoring to make the case for the irresponsible right-wingers. But our poisonous political culture is the effect, not the cause, of our broader social and moral dysfunction. The uptick in violence is simply a dramatic and deadly manifestation of our underlying spiritual and intellectual chaos.
Nothing happened to us in 2020. We happened.