How Trump voters formed an ugly—and accurate—view of America’s ruling regime.
The elites dearly miss having a pandemic on hand.
Apparently, prescribing Ivermectin for people with Covid was fine all along. Sure, nearly every public authority vehemently denounced Ivermectin, calling it “horse dewormer,” and social media platforms censored people who dared mention it. And sure, they slandered medical experts like Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. Robert Malone and even placed jaundiced filters on pictures of Joe Rogan, who credited Ivermectin for his quick recovery from Covid. But now, after some doctors are suing the FDA for all but banning an effective treatment for the coronavirus, FDA officials have claimed that their aggressive criticisms of the drug were “merely quips.”
When it comes to acknowledging the many blunders of the Covid response, none of this is surprising. Whether they were wrong about social distancing, lockdowns, masking, taking the jab, natural immunity, or finding the origins of the virus, the experts are oddly forgetful now of just how confident and belligerent they were at the time. In other cases, as with “public intellectual” Sam Harris, many leftists still maintain that imposing Covid vaccine mandates was justified because the virus could have been much worse—even though it wasn’t.
Fortunately for these hypocrites, most Americans today are tired of hearing about Covid. They don’t want to think about hysteria, the lies that were told, the rights that were stripped away, the friendships and families that were destroyed, the businesses that were shut down, or the many students who fell years behind in their learning. Not only is it painful to think about, but any attempt to rectify those mistakes seems futile. Everyone just wants to move on. As Emily Oster recommended in her infamous essay last year in The Atlantic, “We have to put these fights aside and declare a pandemic amnesty.”
However, as tempting as this thinking is, moving on and declaring a blanket amnesty won’t be possible until Americans face up to what happened during those dark days. Otherwise, history will repeat itself, the worst offenses will go unpunished, and worst of all, true healing won’t take place.
Although the worst of the pandemic is long gone, Covid is still making people sick. Many adults came down with pink eye and various flu symptoms earlier this summer. In all likelihood, these aren’t the usual seasonal ailments, but are the newest strains of the Wuhan virus.
Of course, it’s always possible that a new virus could replace Covid. After all, SARS-CoV-2 was a synthetically designed virus that almost certainly came out of a bio lab conducting gain-of-function research. There are many such labs around the world, all of which carry the risk of inadvertently releasing another devastating virus. It’s not conspiracy kookery to seek accountability for the lab leak and demand that all labs conducting this research be defunded and shut down.
Moreover, the bad actors need to be punished. Thus far, none of the great liars who stoked hysteria, demonized whole swaths of the country, pushed untested vaccines on the entire population, and crashed the economy have been held to account. They continue to command great respect and speak on issues of the day, and many of them are enjoying the fortunes they made because of the lockdowns and relentless propaganda. Even petty dictators like Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who devastated their states with lockdowns, suffered little to no backlash from voters.
This means that the same people who exploited Covid have every incentive to keep up their exploitation. Considering how richly they’ve been rewarded in the past, they’d be foolish to not try again.
And sure enough, yet a new variant of Covid has popped up this month, causing companies and municipalities to push masking again. We can expect yet another round of universal mail-in ballots, more “strong leadership” from the petty dictators, certain particularly weak candidates campaigning from their basements again, and the perfect catchall excuse for any and all crises that come up in the next year (“Covid did it!”).
But along with avoiding another pandemic and holding people accountable, Americans need to psychologically process Covid and the disastrous response to it. With so much damage done to so many people, resentment can fester and initiate a cycle of revenge. Communities become polarized to the point that neighbors live in different worlds, and politics become “weaponized,” a means of striking back at the other side rather than one of bringing people together. In some countries, this can look like a civil war; in America this looks like a two-tiered corrupt system of elites oppressing non-elites.
For the time being, it would be counterproductive to attempt wide-scale reconciliation. The people who wanted anti-vaxxers to die and believe in the power of a biomedical security state to keep them safe from sickness have no intention of repenting. Those who faced persecution for appealing to common sense are under no obligation to let bygones be bygones. For reconciliation to happen, one side would need to admit to the harm done, take steps to reform the system, and apologize; in turn, the other side would also admit the harm done, help with reform, and accept the apology.
Until this happens, the people who found themselves vilified, silenced, fired from their jobs, and even denied healthcare will have to take the steps of remembering the harm done and distancing themselves from the people who hurt them (or at the very least, stop voting for them). Although feelings of seeking revenge will surely surface, they cannot take over. Non-elites have no real way to take revenge on the ruling class who holds all the power, and even if it were possible, revenge will create more problems than it solves. Revenge will only exacerbate negative feelings, worsening the pain already inflicted and making it all-consuming.
If one is bleeding from a mortal wound, he first needs to accept the fact that he is bleeding, treat the wound, and then understand how this happened. Similarly, Americans need to accept that they suffered harm (instead of impulsively wishing it away), treat the problem directly with reasonable action and prudent judgement, and understand the problems that led to it. Only after this process occurs does it become possible to recover, and even forgive. The cycle of violence is finally broken.
Whatever people decide to do, simply pretending Covid never happened and thinking happy thoughts is not an option. Americans of all political stripes are hurting right now and at a high risk of going through the misery again. A deep collective reckoning on what has happened for the past three years is long past due. It may be unpleasant, but it’s the only way to truly move on and get to a better place.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.
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