If there is one thing that a corrupt president, a neo-fascist political party, and several thousand gun-toting protesters know, it’s that the simple act of saying you can now get a haircut will cause our economy to rebound so quickly that every citizen will get prosperity whiplash. Just like that—no more Great Depression 2!
Oh, and also, the virus has been defeated, and only a few disposable people will die from this point on, so don’t concern yourself with them.
Yes, the same individuals who told you that we would be welcome as liberators, that the glaciers aren’t melting, and that job creators will trickle down their cash are now insisting that opening up restaurants will cure our financial ills—even though a lot of economists agree that many Americans remain too terrified to mingle in crowds, which would thwart any economic improvement, and every serious epidemiologist has said that opening up now only ensures more death and misery from Covid-19.
But who are you going to believe? Esteemed scientists from top institutions with access to the latest data and sophisticated predictive models? Or a guy who says gurgling bleach is good for you?
I think the answer is obvious.
Now, to be fair, there are coherent arguments for considering a slow, phased-in reopening for some parts of the country. And one can even disagree—to a point—about the lethality of Covid-19, the effectiveness of face masks, and the constitutionality of lockdown orders.
But we’re not hearing the reasonable arguments that conservatives could have made. Instead we are hearing from ferocious right-wingers who insist that 70,000 deaths is no big deal, that the effectiveness of social distancing is a myth, and that patriotic behavior consists of screaming obscenities into a cop’s face from one inch away (guess that whole Blue Lives Matter movement is done).
Soon, we will hear Fox News shriek that washing your hands is un-American. After that, it’s just a matter of time before a gang of bellicose conservatives burst into a New York City ICU ward and lick all the ventilators (just to own the libs).
In essence, we can’t have a rational discussion of how to reopen the nation if one side says, “Let’s look at the science,” and the other side says, “It’s all lies! Sacrifice the weak!”
Furthermore, there will be no limit to the madness, no turning point where hardcore Trump supporters will abruptly say, “Enough.”
Yes, imagine the following worst-case scenario:
Over 2 million Americans die. Unemployment hits record levels. Chaos engulfs the nation.
Even with all that, 40 percent of Americans would still vote for Trump and insist that liberals are out to destroy America.
To understand this, keep in mind that just as the virus took years to evolve and mutate in order to spark a pandemic, the GOP took decades to arrive at this moment, when Republicans openly dismiss “scientific merit and expert recommendations and instead award lucrative contracts based on political connections and cronyism.”
You see, the Republican Party has, “dating back to Ronald Reagan, attacked the very ideas of the common good and mutual obligation, equating the idea of success with violent, personal sacrifice.”
For the modern GOP, the noblest thing you can do is die for a corporation, and the most evil concept in the world is the idea of societal benefit.
As a result, there is no conspiracy too insane, no rationalization too idiotic, no pivot too jarring, and no excuse too pathetic that will prevent hardcore conservatives from shouting that progressives are scheming to steal our freedom.
So where does that leave us?
Exactly here, in this nation where millions of citizens honestly believe that doctors and nurses who risk their lives working to save Americans are, in actuality, opportunistic villains or brainwashed stooges.
Personally, I look forward to watching Fox News in October, when their commentators will insist that the reports of our societal collapse are exaggerated. They will tell us to pay no attention to the rampaging hordes outside our bedroom windows, and they will opine that liberals won’t tell you that Lord Humungus is actually a really great guy.
And much of America will believe them.