It’s been surprising to watch the United State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Around the globe, industrialized nations trusted good science and implemented measures to stop the spread of the disease. In fact, many of them followed the advice of American doctors. Methods for responding to pandemics are well-known due to their popularization by groups like the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia.
Watching the country that is known for being a world leader on scientific advancements struggle with its response to the pandemic, then, has been troubling. Europe has largely banned American travelers from entering the continent. While the States are still experiencing lockdowns and skyrocketing case numbers, some European nations have been able to return to something like normal. This has led to a strange scenario. What kind of world doesn’t have America to turn to for guidance?
The myth of “American Exceptionalism” is pervasive in the US. It holds that the United States is a special place, exceptional in many ways. After all, it was Americans who invented the lightbulb, the automobile, the airplane, the microprocessor, the internet, and more. Why wouldn’t they be an exceptional place?
While Americans have certainly made many strides in technology, however, they’ve also got an anti-intellectual streak that can cause major issues. For instance, in the US right now, there are people who suspect the pandemic isn’t even real, but a hoax designed to deprive them of freedom.
This mistrust of science, and disdain for experts, has made the United States an unexpected victim of the pandemic. While the country was once looked at as “too big to fail,” we’re now seeing it fail in a spectacular way. Many Americans blame this situation on President Donald Trump, while others view it as more complex.
What will this mean for the future of EU relations with the US? Well, for one thing, we’ve now seen a gap in the giant’s armor. The once unshakeable nation has been shown to be divided, mistrustful, and superstitious. What should the EU take away from this?
It seems the US has the potential to be great, as much as it has the potential to be a hapless juggernaut. With the right leadership, the country can lead by example. However, that leadership is far from guaranteed. It might be time for Europe to forge its own path and no longer lean so heavily on the US for support.