FES Digital Dialogue: Looking For America

We've partnered with Philippa Hughes, creator of the 'Looking For America' series, to bring together voices from across the United States in digital dialogues


Digital Dialogue Series Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Washington, DC The Friedrich Ebert Foundation has partnered with Philippa Hughes, creator of the Looking For America series, to bring voices from across the United States together for a series of conversations and digital dialogues about urgent local and transnational concerns.


Looking for America



The first installment of the digital dialogues addressed regional responses in the United States to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.As we have watched this virus span the globe, we have observed how different continents, countries, states, localities, and communities have reacted and continue to react to the incredible strain of this situation.

The American federal system of government is demonstrating both encouraging strengths and worrying shortcomings at a time when a coordinated, coherent, nation-wide response is needed most. Deep economic inequality, a lack of a single payer healthcare system, and a fragmented employment protection system has exacerbated the crisis – all in front of the backdrop of a federal election this year.All the while, this experience demonstrates the resilience of the American people, especially front-line medical professionals and essential workers. The United States—despite its challenges—remains a society that is marked for its optimism.

Join Philippa and four Americans from Alaska to Michigan, Arkansas to Nebraska, to explore local responses to the COVID-19 crisis and what unites Americans, regardless of political persuasion or geographic location.

This conversation was recorded on April 20, 2020. In the United States to that date, there have been a total of 776,093 confirmed cases, 41,758 confirmed deaths, and over 22 million newly unemployed persons.

The engagement, civility, and nuance of the discussion is a stark contrast to the discourse making headlines in America and internationally: loud and bitter fights between President Trump and state governors of both political parties.

The loudest of these fights seems to be between President Trump and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat. She had been the target not only of the ire of the President, but of small bands of furious protesters, funded and marshalled by the far-right to gather in defiance of state-level stay at home and quarantine orders. State-level protests in Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky are only a small fraction of the population, but have gained notoriety for flaunting all public health advice and local regulations. They have received positive coverage in far-right media, and direct praise and encouragement from President Trump.

Certainly, most Americans disagree with the tactic of mass gatherings and protests of common-sense public health measures. But what about specific local-level responses to the crisis that fail to make headlines? What do they look like, how do they vary, and how could they be used as constructive lessons in addressing a common crisis?

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