In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, government at all levels in the United States undertook significant short-term interventions – lockdowns, subsidies, and economic regulation. But throughout 2020 the question arose as to what the long-term implications would be for the relationship between society and the state. In the past, enduring transformations in this relationship relied on changes in federalism and liberalism, typically around a political realignment driven by a new coherent narrative of American solidarity. Initially in the spring of 2020, the instability in these structural and ideological contours of governance showed some potential for lasting change in the spring. But by the summer and fall, partisanship and tribalism reasserted themselves, and political polarization rendered unlikely any enduring transformation of the relationship between society and the state.
Paper presented in a joint webinar on transatlantic relations by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik (DGAP), organised in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Compagnia di San Paolo, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Rome Office) and the US Embassy to Italy on 5 November 2020.
1. Winter of disregard
2. Springtime for the state?
3. Summer of fracture
4. The fall of Democratic hopes