Letter to the Editor

Coronavirus and democracy

To the editor: As Trump’s coronavirus news conferences become more substantive and bipartisan, one hopes some of the petty news media “gotcha” moments will decrease. Admittedly, expecting Schumer and Democratic senators to not filibuster Republican proposed stimulus packages is wishful thinking. However, the liberal news media’s demand that we handle the crisis like smaller highly socialistic states is overly simplistic.

The real issue at hand is whether a pluralistic democracy can handle the coronavirus crisis without becoming an authoritarian state. Just as an authoritarian state can establish a great health care system (as Bernie Sanders keeps pointing out), it can also stop a plague dead in its tracks.

To understand how political tribalism can lead to the demise of democracy via the internet is the subject of the excellent “Networld” documentary on PBS. Russian meddling and Facebook’s use of the internet to make money by selling users’ private information, this documentary argues, is the ultimate root cause for the rise of extreme partisan politics in the U.S. However, most frightening is how China uses its state-controlled internet monopoly to enforce an authoritarian state that makes “1984” look juvenile. Your debts, bank accounts and address are all available on apps. If you don’t pay your debts, you can’t even get an airplane ticket. If Sanders’ “New Green Deal” were to ever come to fruition, democracy would sadly likely look similar. Big Brother would be the only game in town.

Meanwhile in Alaska, our erstwhile governor is again showing his incompetence by using the crisis to push for supplemental dividends, which in a time of dropping oil prices will destroy the only income the state now has to run essential services. This is basically a criminal act that would wipe out the whole economic foundation of a state that generations of good leaders have created over the last 50 years. While the governor’s motives are perhaps nonnefarious, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Counting our blessings, we fortunately have a very competent bipartisan Legislature to balance the governor.

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