But this seems a good time to note that the current polarization of American politics — a phenomenon that is afflicting many other countries as well — is more than distasteful political career-building. It is, in fact, a macabre dance that is undercutting the working of government and taking a toll on the way we live. It is costing lives. That’s because government is not some remote entity we should think about only when elections approach. Government is a necessary part of a complicated world. Those who obstruct its functioning are keeping it from performing functions that are indispensable.
We see it not only in the work of fire and rescue teams, the most unalloyed of public servants. We see it also in the ones that fail the test, the many public figures who so often seem more focused on their political prospects than on carrying out their avowed charge, to serve the public.
When government works well, the private sector works well, and the ups and downs of history can become much less destructive to the lives of everyday people.
The timing of the Miami tragedy highlights the next item on President Biden’s agenda, just behind his top priority, taming the pandemic.
It’s America’s tragedy today that it is facing multiple urgent, severe problems whose solution requires the government to take action during a time when one side of the political spectrum seems more focused on blocking successful legislation than crafting solutions for the people they claim they want to serve.
Perhaps the wrenching images from Florida will play some part in pushing the country’s leaders to work together. The interaction between Biden and DeSantis offers a faint ray of hope.