Where does one even begin? This is the most trying time — economically, spiritually, emotionally — I have ever experienced. Finding a mental model for what is happening right now is nearly impossible. Not even the wise, elderly folks I have talked to have a framework for what is happening in the world because not even they have lived through a time like today.
At the risk of histrionics, I can’t help but think of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s concept of “magical realism,” for which he won the Nobel Prize. The Nobel committee awarded Marquez “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts.”
The conflict we are living through certainly feels both surreal (as a pandemic and economic crisis sweeps our nation) and deeply mundane (as we are quarantined in our homes).
So how does one think about this time of magical realism? Well, history can be a helpful guide. Right now looks a lot like the 1930s: a depression, a bank bail-out, widening wealth disparity, the rise of nationalism, followed by another crisis in 1937, and then, of course, World War II. And here we are, quarantined, rationing food, while nurses and doctors sacrifice their lives on the front lines of our hospitals. We are truly living through historical milestones that will be studied for generations.
Unfortunately, progress often happens in a punctuated manner, slow then very fast and often violently. However, the 30s also included President Roosevelt and the Progressive Era, a Golden Age of sweeping reforms. The progressive era included women’s suffrage, the labor movement, and, of course, the New Deal, a series of projects putting millions of people to work.
I am deeply optimistic that we are on the cusp of a new golden age, and a transition from an industrialized economy to an information economy. Nobody thought that technology, the internet, and communications could be any more relevant than it already was, until about one month ago, when everyone started learning online, seeking healthcare online, shopping online, and even socializing with friends and family online.
What this new Golden Age brings, the form of our New Deal, and what exactly newfound American prosperity looks like I don’t know. But what I do know is that history rhymes, busts are commensurate to booms, and that means we have a lot to look forward to right around the corner.
And in the spirit of contributing to a new Progressive Era, join a call to learn about how you can organize your network to change the balance of power in the 12 states that matter most. Register here.
In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and march through the darkness into the bright future ahead of us all.
— Adam Pritzker