Without America’s Favorite Distractions Available, Perhaps We’ll Reflect on How We Got Here.

No sports on TV, canceled concerts, movie releases, and festivals might prompt us to come to terms with reality.

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Photo via New York Knicks on Instagram

As the American people come to terms with the seemingly endless ways that their lives and the lives of their loved ones are being impacted by the global COVID-19 epidemic, undoubtedly a significant number of us began to come to terms with the significance of what’s going on when a number of sports organizations made announcements that they would be suspending the remainder of their seasons. The NBA made the decision after one of their players tested positive, and the NHL and NAACP followed suit soon after. Earlier on the world famous music festival Coachella announced they would be postponing the event, and since then Disney has announced the indefinite postponement of the release of Mulan, The New Mutants, and Antlers. Their Disneyworld and Disneyland Paris theme parks have been closed as well, joining a long list of closings, cancellations, and postponements of events all over the world.

While the concern for local economies is certainly valid, the cancellations of festivals and sporting events might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things considering everything that’s currently taking place. That being said, it will be fascinating to see how a lack of our culturally favored distractions is going to impact the way Americans are dealing with not just the heightened health concerns, but the day to day stresses of life in general.

With an ever increasing number of Americans either opting or being forced to stay at home without the sports, concerts and movies to distract them, the optimist in me can’t help but hope that in between some Netflix episodes, at least some of us will use this time to reflect on how we got here.

To be clear, the ever growing list of closings, cancellations, and postponements should not prompt panic. Rather, we should see it as an indication that these organizations are taking steps to help contain the spread of this illness. But while acknowledging this, we must also consider how American’s long-standing policies of putting profit over people, particularly when it comes to healthcare, have led us to this pivotal moment.

Perhaps the previously apolitical college student forced home early will take a moment to google countries that offer universal healthcare coverage to their citizens. Perhaps the young mother terrified of being laid off from her job during these scary economic times because she has to stay home with her kids for a few days to sort out how she’s going to afford their daycare will google universal daycare. Perhaps the retail worker sitting at home after their shift worrying about how they’ll pay the bills if they get sick will google search countries that have paid sick leave. After hearing for years about how we aren’t able to afford universal healthcare for all our citizens, maybe people all throughout the country will notice the absurdity of this claim after we found $1.5 trillion in taxpayer money to loan to the banks to stabilize the economy for less than an hour. Maybe they will discover that’s roughly the amount to erase student loan debt entirely, and think about the long term, far broader economic benefits that debt erasure would have for the country.

We’ve reached a fascinating moment in our nation’s history where people are almost forced to come to terms with the shortcomings of the way our economic and healthcare system have operated. We are seeing firsthand how a profit driven healthcare system is allowing this spread as people learn more and more about the costs of not just testing, but treatment as well. With less and less available distractions, I can’t help but hope that at least some people will begin to consider how the changes the left has been advocating for are not pie in the sky as Joe Biden puts it, but obligatory for the broader health and well-being of the nation.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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