Let’s be clear. America will reopen when the virus says so. Not before. And there’s not a single thing Trump or Bill Barr or those murderous red-state governors can do about it.
The virus will be the dictator Trump wishes he could be.
The virus will dictate when we can come out of our houses. When we can go back to work. When we can go to school, get a haircut, watch football.
The virus will set the schedule and determine the rules. Punishment for non-compliance will be swift and painful. Not necessarily capital punishment, though there will be plenty of that. And not necessarily our punishment, either — others could suffer for our dissent. The virus is a natural Stalinist.
So here's the big question we, as a failing nation, now face: Do we want to do this the hard way or the harder way?
The hard way is what most of us are doing right now. Sucking it up and staying home. Riding it out as best we can. Understanding that what we do affects those around us — and might just kill them. Listening to scientists instead of Fox and Friends, doctors instead of charlatans, common sense instead of willful ignorance. It’s hard. And it might get harder. But it’s easier than the harder way.
The harder way is to blindly follow liars and thieves (i.e. Republicans). To insist on going back to work when scientists say that’s insane. To think guns are for real men and masks are for sissies. To assert your sacred constitutional right to a new tattoo.
These are not things the virus cares about. And if the virus objects to what you’re doing, you’ll be notified within a week or two. Enjoy the tattoo.
So if you have the kind of head-in-the-sand governor (i.e. Republican) who thinks the local meat packing plant will magically keep cranking out steaks just because Trump wants it to, the virus gets a say.
If you’ve been listening to Fox News and you’re sure this is just a bad flu or that China grew it in a lab and you might as well just ignore it and hang out with your buddies, the virus gets a say.
If you’ve been drinking Trump-flavored Kool-Aid — or maybe Lysol — and still think incompetence is an effective pandemic policy, the virus gets a say.
If your pastor has sold you and your congregation on a beautiful afterlife, the virus could move that plan forward.
And if you think there’s no problem because you don’t live in those godless cities — New York, Detroit, New Orleans, etc. — the virus now has the heartland in its sights. And the South.
Time to get out your guns and tell that virus to not tread on you. That’ll work.
I’m guessing that those who are approaching all this the harder way will be changing their minds by June. Assuming they’re still around.
Because May is the month when the bill comes due for all the nursing homes, meat packing plants, and prisons that have been criminally ignored by red state governors. It’s the month when those petri dish environments will trigger a mathematically terrifying explosion across states that are in no way prepared for it.
It’s the month when the virus will speak directly to Trump’s base. Will they get the message?
Fortunately, the virus doesn’t get the only say. Millions upon millions of sane, ordinary people — people who can think for themselves and filter out the nonsense, even in red states — are voting with their fannies. They will stay on their sofas until it’s safe to come out. They alone will decide when the next normal starts. Stupid governors can tell businesses to reopen, but they can’t provide the customers.
Meanwhile, we keep waiting for a so-called “wake-up call” — that moment when it dawns on a shockingly large and widespread group of fools that COVID-19 is not messing around. Since they’ve slept through too many wake-up calls already, I’m not optimistic.
But May should be the month when they finally get it. Or not.
P.S. I feel compelled to mention, because the media seem to be deliberately and irresponsibly ignoring it, that the situation in Michigan isn’t nearly as volatile as they’re making it appear. Despite everything you’re hearing, Gretchen Whitmer has an approval rating of over 61%, about 25 points higher than Trump’s (remember, it’s Michigan). And the more the wingnuts act up, the more we approve of her.
She knows she can take the high road and let all the buffoons hang themselves. Which they do with depressing regularity. The Republicans who dominate in the state legislature get to have it both ways — they can criticize everything she does, while thanking their lucky stars they don’t have to do it themselves. They can pass idiotic “reopen” bills in full confidence — and extremely relieved — that she’ll veto them. They can sue her to open up businesses they’d never be crazy enough to frequent themselves. And they can give tacit approval to these armed morons storming the capitol building. Through it all our Gretchen just keeps on doing the right thing — data-driven, compassionate, bullshit-free. And the vast, vast majority of us are following her.
But the real story here is that you don’t hear that story. You have to work to track it down. Then you think, hmm. DeVos money. Plus Sinclair Media. Plus Fox News. That’s quite a megaphone pumping out this crap. But that’s expected. What’s inexcusable is that NYT, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN and too many other so-called mainstream outlets aren’t telling you the other side of it.