Rahm Emanuel- longtime Democratic strategist former Chicago Mayor, made an appearance last Sunday on the news show circuit. During his turn to weigh-in on the widespread lock-downs and attendant economic damage, Emanuel almost begged his fellow Democrats to pivot their message:
From “remaining closed” to “rebuilding America”.
It was a great idea. That no one listened doesn’t mean he’s wrong. That Democrats haven’t attacked him over the statement proves he has a point; if there was a good counter-argument to Rahm Emanuel’s position, someone would have made it.
Inconvenient opinions held by allies which cannot be explained away are better ignored.
But Rahm Emanuel is hardly alone in the sentiment, on the right or the left, that continuing the widespread lock-downs is a dangerous and senseless position to maintain. Locking-down the country until a cure or vaccine is found isn’t practicable; and it isn’t very scientific.
There are hundreds of known deadly diseases and viruses with no cure or vaccine. There are thousands more that are unknown, if not millions.
There has been a predictable backlash to the continued calls- mostly from politicians on the left- that life cannot return to normal until the scourge of Covid-19 is gone forever.
As a result, there is a not-insignificant segment of the U.S. voting population who see a certain amount of the Trump “Resistance” in efforts by Democratic politicians to keep the economy shut-down, even as the number of new hospitalizations and deaths continue to steadily taper off.
“No matter what some Washington Democrats may try to claim, you are not crazy or a conspiracy theorist if you see a pattern of institutional unfairness towards this President. You would have to be blind not to see one.” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). May 19, 2020
For Republican voters, it is clear when “Resistance” Democrats want to reopen the country; the moment Joe Biden is sworn in as President of the United States and not a moment before.
This will never work: November is still five long months away.
People simply aren’t going to stay inside and forgo their lives and livelihoods forever. And the political party that doesn’t factor basic human nature into its plans, as Rahm Emanuel rightly pointed out, is doomed to failure.
Considering how wrong the models have been (first 2.2 million Americans were going to die, then 1.3 million, then 250,000, then 100,00, then 80,000, then 60,000, now 120,000) there is no way the Democratic Party- and all the writers at Vox, the New York Times and Salon put together- can keep up a high-enough level of public panic until then.
Not unless people actually start dying in the record numbers predicted by the earlier models. Which they aren’t.
Even the clamoring for more testing and antibody testing reveals the weakness of the argument that Covid-19 is far too deadly for all of us to return to life as normal.
Random samples from Califoria to New York- collected from open populations like people on the street and closed populations like people in prison- point to the likelihood that many of us may have already been exposed. If symptoms were so non-existent or mild people didn’t know they were sick, and no large groups of healthy persons have been unexpectedly dying in clusters, this is good news.
The idea that early deaths from Covid-19 might have been mistaken for other causes leads to the same logical conclusion about its deadliness:
If we have to look that hard for clusters of outbreaks which started occurring prior to March when everyone started paying attention, the outbreaks couldn’t have been that bad. Not from what long-term nursing care home and hospice center managers say about what happens when Covid-19 gets into the high-risk populations most vulnerable to dying from it.
Republican voters aren’t the only ones crying foul on continuing the lock-downs indefinitely. Independent voters, who are never really for or against Trump, are also looking askance at the political divide between the “remain closed” set and the “reopen America” set.
The open lamentations of left-leaning journalists over Donald Trump aren’t helping matters for Democrats. “Wait, Donald Trump’s Approval Rating is Up Again?” asks CNN’s Chris Cillizza.
“There are many ironies of the COVID-19 era, perhaps too many to count. There is, of course, the fact that after three years of shouting at one another that “we should be out in the streets,” something has happened that would compel everyone to the streets and we can no longer be on the streets.”
“Then there is the fact that after three years of insisting that there should be a tremendous general strike to protest Donald Trump and that it is only by massively tanking the economy that we might be able to stop him, we are witnessing a massive cratering of the economy and incomprehensible unemployment and it has seemingly done nothing to harm him.” — Slate. April 16, 2020.
“…only by massively tanking the economy.” As if that wouldn’t and hasn’t hurt millions of actual people- small business owners, working class people. Not Donald Trump.
The press has been beating the drums of fear on coronavirus hard for the past two-months. Democrats may see this as hurting Donald Trump’s chances in November, but they are missing something important.
The press is scaring Democratic voters more than Republican voters. Hard to even ballot harvest when your voters won’t even open the door.
It is time for the Democratic Party to pivot to a more hopeful message. Democratic voters need to feel empowered to tackle the challenges ahead, not least of which will be rebuilding the economy and defeating Donald Trump in November.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)