Coronavirus was a test…figuratively or literally, it doesn’t matter. How far will the people go to protect their economic and civil liberties; their “guaranteed” Constitutional rights? Covid-19 taught the ruling classes that the people won’t go far at all. In fact, they will scarcely leave their homes. At the slightest whiff of a disruption to their mundane and predictable status quo existence, and under the influence of the rank panic merchants in the media, a relatively harmless virus, with fatality numbers utterly dwarfed by the common flu after five/six months, can cow the people into surrendering their financial future, mortgage the lives of their children, shutter their businesses which they have spent untold amounts of time and energy building, hoard food and toilet paper even absent any kind of supply shortage, accept summary termination of employment, accept trillions of government pork spending, slavishly suffer legal limitations to their freedom of movement and association (a woman in York, PA was recently fined for simply going for a drive) and accept the precedent which says that the government can define a crises and then immediately seize complete control of the economy and society almost literally overnight.
Like with the Patriot Act after 911, the powers and rights we have surrendered to the state—for this—are gone for good.
But at least you feel safe behind your mask and gloves.
Right now we are in the holding pattern of plausible deniability. What I mean is that the Covid-19 scare is not the apocalypse we were told (and are being told even now) it was, but the government and its healthcare advisor yes-men have painted themselves into a corner, and we will be stuck in the “quarantine to nowhere” until they can figure a way out. You see, the powers-that-be, based on a virus of which they knew little to nothing about, and acting out of political expediency and under pressure from media and social media panic merchants and conspiracy theorists (I do NOT blame the government solely for this mess), have damaged this nation in ways that are so unfathomably destructive to the very core of our republic and all upon which it is founded, to the point that it shall never recover, and the death and misery reaped will outweigh anything the coronavirus could do in a million years, that they cannot simply admit they were wrong and throw open society and the economy with a shrug and a “oops, sorry about that”. They fear that, should they do this, in a week once the exuberance wears off, they will face many uncomfortable questions and someone will be on the hook for explaining just how the people tasked with competently and intelligently governing the world’s only remaining superpower could manage to so royally fuck it up almost literally overnight.
What this means is that will will all toil in our locked-down glove, mask, and toilet paper fortresses until they can figure out a way to give themselves an out—a way that can make it look like what is happening now, despite all rational evidence to the contrary, was exactly the right move. They need a plausible way to disguise their catastrophic failure. My guess is that in the next week or so we will hear about some promising new drug which is knocking out the virus left and right, and THAT is why we can now safely reopen the nation, and not because the virus isn’t actually that dangerous after all. It may be some spin about how the quarantine efforts really stemmed the flow of infection and got the numbers down to manageable levels, or a combination of these two “explanations”. But plausible deniability, not a cure, or more ventilators, or more healthcare workers, or more data, is the hold up now.
Oh, and by the way, once this is all over, you can expect terms like “lockdown” and “stay-at-home orders” and “enforced quarantine” to completely disappear from all national media conversation about the coronavirus. That little bit of overt despotism speak is not going to be good for public relations.
And public relations is what it’s all about, after all.