I remember how bleak I felt in late March, when the U.S. was reporting about 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and most of those were along the East Coast. Like pretty much everyone, I was in no way prepared for the possibility of a pandemic, which seemed old-timey and Black Death-ish and the kind of thing that science had put in its rear-view mirror. And of course, I was wrong abut that.
I was in an area that was getting hit fairly hard. Almost immediately, the mocking came from areas that weren’t hit hard, especially from knucklehead governors in some lightly affected areas. Their scientists were telling them the same things we were hearing, but those elected officials weren’t seeing that kind of threat in front of their eyes, and the cost of not doing business was high. So, naturally, being knuckleheads, they apparently decided their residents had special superhuman abilities. They ignored the obvious warnings, opened businesses back up and went about the hard work of infecting everyone around them.
They’ve certainly been successful on that front. By July 3, the U.S. had skyrocketed to 57,000 cases a day and now has passed 3 million cases overall. The knucklehead governors and their citizen-victims have been forced to retrench, which is sort of like trying to put the genie back in the bottle, and the genie sure as hell isn’t going to help with this process.
Business vs. life isn’t a question of balance. It’s a false choice. Once you make a decision that ignores basic health practices and you choose to endanger the lives of your citizens, they don’t forget what happens next. You can open all of the restaurants in the world, but it won’t matter if people won’t go in them. And they won’t believe you any more when you try to convince them they’re safe (or in danger), either. You end up with the same business outcome and a far worse one when it comes to lives, the credibility of government, and basic human decency.
Not that any of this will stop some people who lust for power, or have built a propaganda-based business model. They will continue to be disconnected from reality, with results that are hard not to call murderous now. Still, at some point, you stop being ashamed of these cartoon characters and start being ashamed of people who continue to buy what they’re selling.
There’s a way to fix a lot of that in November. You should vote as though your life depended on it, because it very well might.