Among the myriad lawn signs sprouting in anticipation of November's presidential election, two are noteworthy for their seeming nonpartisanship:
The first sign - "ANY FUNCTIONING ADULT 2020" - makes light of America's current upheaval, tacitly confessing how little today's disillusioned voters expect of their elected leaders.
The second, beginning with the words "IN THIS HOUSE," advertises the occupants' allegiance to a list of cardinal virtues - kindness, respect for learning, compassion for those with disabilities, etc. - as timeless and anodyne as the Girl Scout Law.
Neither sign mentions any candidate, political party or elective office. But it is telling that both signs are understood - instantly and universally - to signal the resident's opposition to Donald Trump's reelection.
Optimists who believe in America's boundless capacity for reinvention like to think we are always one election away from redemption. But it will be no simple task to recover what has been lost in the four years since 2016, when a confluence of working-class anger, bipartisan resignation, and misplaced confidence in polls that forecast an easy Democratic victory propelled a man who personified the nation's worst qualities to the highest office in the land.
Donald Trump's election was a tragedy whose cost Americans have scarcely begun to reckon. Its most conspicuous casualties are the disproportionate number of American lives extinguished by a pandemic that raged unchecked for months while the president shrugged off, mocked and occasionally obstructed the medical community's urgent efforts to contain it.
Continuing to pay the price of Trump's negligence are the tens of millions of U.S. workers still languishing in unemployment, even as their counterparts in other developed countries - countries whose leaders recognized the pandemic's seriousness and acted promptly to curtail its spread - return to work, and secure incomes.
Other damage is more difficult to quantify: It includes the pervasive mistrust triggered by Trump's relentless campaign to discredit or corrupt nonpartisan institutions like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Postal Service, and the myriad agencies that comprise the nation's intelligence community; the legal chaos arising from his contempt for the authority reserved for the courts and the U.S. Congress, and the normalization of behavior Americans once found intolerable even in their children and house pets.