By Rob Meyne
- Dec. 27, 2021
- 5-min read
Someday, the full story of COVID’s effect on America will be written. If it is compiled competently, and truthfully, it will describe some successes but also a ton of mixed messages, censorship, policy reversals, selective reliance on “science,” and assaults on our rights.
There may be debates about the effectiveness of how we responded to COVID, but there is no dispute it was an astonishingly draconian assertion of governmental power and control over our lives. You will recall President Trump grudgingly accepted the need for “15 days to flatten the curve,” which led to a near-complete shutdown of our economy and normal life. At the same time, he endorsed strategies to protect those who were at greatest risk and initiated Project Warp Speed to develop a vaccine in record time.
Following that initial period, and nearly alone among our leaders, President Trump urged a quick return to normal life. Predictably, the state and local governments, as well as federal regulators, who managed our COVID response fell in love with lockdowns and mandates, and they continued long after the President supported them.
If you rely on your memory, rather than mainstream media, you may recall Biden and Harris both discouraged people from getting a vaccine. Astonishingly, today’s preferred media/Democratic Party narrative is that President Trump and his supporters are anti-vaccine Neanderthals, whose reticence is keeping COVID alive. Quite the contrary: President Trump led development of a vaccine, has promoted it, got the vax himself, and the groups with the lowest vaccination rates are Blacks and Hispanics, groups that generally vote Democratic.
At a time people should have been encouraged to get a vaccine when available, Biden and Harris said they would not take it and didn’t trust anything produced by President Trump. (The vaccines were being developed by the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, of course, But to hear the left tell it, you would think Trump himself was huddled in some dark corner of the West Wing, Bunsen burner and test tube in hand, trying to cook up a vaccine from chemicals he found under the sink in the White House mess.)
If you could buy cars with hypocrisy and mendacity, Biden and Harris would be driving new Bugattis.
There is little attempt to put most stories about COVID in perspective, but this piece from the always terrific Heather MacDonald provides some much needed context. We are told that COVID is the worst pandemic in 100 years (and this just in: no one says it isn’t bad), but there has only been one month in which it was the leading cause of death in America. As for raw numbers, yes, nearly a million deaths is a lot, but around 150 million Americans have had COVID. As a percentage of people who have had the illness, less than one percent died from it. In all but one month since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been more deaths from both heart disease and cancer than COVID.
The overwhelming majority of COVID deaths have been among elderly people with co-morbidities. That should be the focus of any rational policy. There is no strong argument for mask wearing in schools or forcing six-year-olds to be vaccinated. Yet here we are.
The “six-foot rule” for social distancing is also bogus. There is some evidence six feet is a good general guideline for battling the transmission of flu -– a different disease that is not transmitted in the same way — but there is no comparable evidence regarding COVID. Nevertheless, the CDC recommendation has been the basis for policies that disrupted schools, businesses, and led to countless lost jobs.
The COVID response suggests strong confidence in governmental experts, our ability to micromanage a very complex world, and the belief that government and big drug companies act in our best interests. If you believe those things, you are not a conservative. You must also believe Al Gore invented the Internet and Bill Clinton cares about his marriage. And you need serious help.
The Biden Administration is doing everything it can to keep people terrified of COVID, even as the new Omicron variant appears to be much less severe than its predecessors.
In the past, pandemics and other health issues have been dealt with in a fairly consistent manner. Our priorities have been to protect and possibly isolate the most vulnerable among us; leave key health decisions to citizens and their doctors; respect rights and restrict governmental action to things that are proven to make a huge difference; work on cures, vaccines, and treatments; and keep the country functioning as normally as possible.
With COVID, none of those guidelines has been followed. We obsess over masks that are not proven to do anything to help, as Dr. Anthony Fauci has said; we implement lockdowns, which we may do more harm than good; we impose vaccine mandates on people who don’t want them, need them, and may actually suffer from them; we ignore vaccine side effects; we censor or excoriate anyone with a diverse opinion; we implement unconstitutional mandates; and we have shut down the economy while violating constitutional rights.
More than a year ago, Fortune reported that more than 100,000 businesses had closed permanently. The Biden Administration has said about one-third of all small businesses closed, so far, during the pandemic.
There may not be a better symbol of the failure of big government than the string of closed small businesses, lost fortunes, and shattered dreams that now line Main Street. It is good to hope that we might someday have enough self-awareness to recognize that autocratic government cannot manage our lives, our economy, and our health better than we can ourselves. The trend in Washington today suggests that is a lesson we have not learned.