Bristling Brock periodically listens to James O'Brien on LBC - periodically because he is such an opinionated and virtuous soul that it's hard to measure up to his 'wonderfulness' too often. That apart, it is clear that he has a political stance on most subjects - and he is very erudite and expressive in that - but occasionally he touches on a theme that resonates with our current times. Common sense is the one BB will pick on for today.
It's a quality that's not very obviously on display, partly, no doubt, because many of the sensible in the population are still abiding by the corona virus restrictions - something we don't see. The smaller proportion of the wider population that have chosen the slight relaxation of the lockdown to just suit themselves might well be collectively put in the 'lacking common sense' bucket. But there are degrees of common sense, we might assume, for there can never be an entirely risk free outcome to this pandemic - corona virus is with us for the long haul and we must establish ways and habits that allow as much sensible activity as the common good requires. It is all new territory though, nobody in government, science or society has seen the likes of this pandemic before so the responses to it will, inevitably, have created a degree of chaos and misinformation and throughout the population there are strata's of thinking that range from the manic to the passive in response. We are, by definition, a very diverse nation.
As such, the notion of 'common sense' being applied universally to assure the 'common good' is whimsical. With the diversity of our national thinking there will never be, cannot be, a unified position on what response to eased lockdown conditions is and it is probably quite naive for the government to broadly state that everyone should behave in a universal way. There are those that will do what suits themselves - both during lockdown and after the limited relaxations of late - and there are those who will comply - our culture and national life-style have developed into this polarised and often disagreeable state. Fear, the desire for everything being risk-free, and virtuosity are plaguing this country - but it's all pie-in-the-sky outlook. Fear is conjured up by the unknown and the uncertain, risk is as endemic to our society as is corona virus, and virtuosity is a self-bred condition that our polarised politics and social manoeuvring of the last 30 or so years has resulted in. The stark reality is that we either succumb to the fear of corona and hunker down for ever more (ignoring the fact that the economic means to survive such a hunkering will quickly run-out) or we face up to the reality that it is there and we live with the risk and its consequences - as we do when we cross the road. Economically and socially, we need to get up and moving again. Within that simplistic statement there will, naturally, be those that abuse it and those that respect it - it has ever been the case in all matters. Common sense for the common good is a lofty ambition with a population mired in political, economic and social division but whatever words are used to describe such an needy ambition, we need to face-up to corona and get our society and economy working again.
Trumpy, predictably enough, gets testy when criticised - especially by former presidents - and responds with childlike vitriol to justify himself. And yet everything that embodies the extraordinary political bubble that America represents these days suggests that Trump has popular support. And that support is quite possibly genuine - or as much genuine as anything in La La Land can be - fueled by a broad swathe of poor, rural and weakly educated citizens who see Trump as something of a saviour, someone who can tote for them and their under-represented points of view. We shouldn't condemn this position or description too much, for there is much of this that is mirrored in other Western societies, ourselves included; it is, perhaps a huge global montage of how the Western species of socio-political animals has become ever-more divided, ever-more trenchant and inflexible in their views and expressed opinions, ever-more lodged in their inescapable environments.