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Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that an internal document the newspaper obtained from the CDC finds that the Delta variant of COVID-19 "appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox." According to the document, officials must "acknowledge the war has changed." Just as ominous, climate change appears to have arrived ahead of schedule, resulting in record-setting highs in temperature, continuously burning wildfires and drought throughout much of the western U.S. this summer, as well as extreme weather events all over the world.
And yet, things could be worse.
The year began with a full-fledged insurrection by supporters of former President Donald Trump who attacked the Capitol to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election in the middle of the deadliest pandemic in a century. But democracy prevailed, President Biden was inaugurated and the person Biden calls "the former guy" has largely been defanged after being banned from the biggest social media platforms. The successful development and rollout of COVID vaccines arrested the infection rate—and deaths—among the U.S. population, allowing the vaccinated to remove their masks, end quarantine and begin to pursue a post-pandemic life, including making travel and even back-to-school plans.
Everything is political
Despite the positive developments, the era of politics encroaching on every aspect of American life, including brand marketing, is here to stay. In this new, potentially perilous landscape, brands now often are compelled to take a political stance. In the view of younger, more diverse and more progressive consumers, remaining neutral or silent regarding existentially polarizing issues like maintaining democratic institutions, the right to vote, racism, sexism, homophobia and climate change is as bad as being on the wrong side of those issues.
A majority of Americans expect companies to take a stance on critical issues when lawmakers lag behind. Some 62% of people in the U.S. say that corporations should act as leaders that cooperate with elected officials, as opposed to followers who listen to elected officials before taking a position or action, according to new research from Global Strategy Group.