Protecting Us From COVID: Politics and Reality

Rochelle Walensky, a Democratic Party activist who happens to direct the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is promoting new COVID-19 measures at the instruction of her boss, Joe Biden. These measures would require masks even for vaccinated Americans entering public buildings and for students and teachers in public schools. 

Although such impositions may displease readers of this journal, until now they have made sense politically. They are intended to distract us from the colossally stupid things the Democratic administration has unleashed on us. Focusing public attention on a health crisis caused by the Delta variant provides a diversion from everything that should be laid at Biden’s doorstep, such as the explosion of violent crimes in American cities, rising inflation, uncontrolled borders, and the takeover of the military and education by the intersectional Left. If the Democrats can get Americans to concentrate on their “crises,” such as the putative danger of a right-wing insurrection and a raging COVID pestilence, then voters might be distracted from other things. 

It would be foolish to pretend the Delta variant has not pushed up the viral infection rate or that in the last month there has not been an increase in both hospitalizations and deaths from this mutated COVID strain. But those who are vaccinated seem to enjoy considerable protection from the variant, while young children do not seem to be at any serious risk of picking up the disease. We are not likely returning to the public health conditions of last summer. But even then, the measures taken to deal with COVID, like closing public schools and making toddlers wear face coverings, were often bizarre. 

The administration, however, is making it appear that we are going back to the disease-ridden conditions of 2020; and they are doing so, among other reasons, because “protecting” us from COVID has been their strong suit. Most citizens here and in other Western countries approve of governments they imagine are earnestly addressing public health problems. Contrary to the impression left by protesting crowds, most Western populations rally to governments they believe are guarding them against a life-threatening plague.

In Germany, both Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder have seen their popularity soar into the stratosphere, as they impose and reimpose mask and travel restrictions and close public facilities supposedly in response to the spread of COVID. In the name of a “fair distribution of the vaccine throughout the world,” Merkel agreed to give away Pfizer vaccine serum (made in Germany) to Third World countries. Germany’s infection rates surged while the country worked to replenish their serum. Then Merkel called for a new national lockdown in April to deal with the spike in cases. This was introduced when infection rates were again in decline.

Despite these screwups, German COVID-warriors remain incredibly popular. Like Biden’s administration, they are thought to be shielding their population against a dangerous infection.

The German social economist Markus Krall was interviewed recently in the German edition of Epoch Times on why his countrymen allow their government to misrepresent reality, as seen in the use of COVID as a political weapon. Krall spoke about the Germans’ inability to overcome their “childish faith in the state,” which has kept them from being justly skeptical of their political leaders. While Krall’s generalization about German character may be true, I have noticed the same behavior in the way most Americans have reacted to our government’s often inconsistent COVID-19 policies. The only area of activity in which Biden has enjoyed overwhelming approval is in his handling of the “pandemic.” In that role, his approval ratings were long in the mid-70s, although a few weeks ago they fell to 67 percent.

Biden’s high approval as a COVID warrior began to wane once the health crisis lost some of its urgency. The infection and hospitalization numbers were falling, and over half the population had received the vaccines, while others who had been infected, acquired immunity without being vaccinated. Now Biden and his advisers are trying to win back popularity as well as divert attention from their disastrous policies by invoking a dire health crisis and by calling for new restrictions to control it. 

Admittedly, the Delta variant is something we should be concerned about, but it is also being used to refurbish Biden’s already tarnished image. Given this demand for further control, we should be asking whether politicians and a party that seem delighted to allow disease-bearing illegal aliens to pour over the border (to increase the number of probable future Democratic voters), and which has abetted violent demonstrations of unmasked vandals, are really concerned about shielding us against disease. One may be allowed to feel skepticism as one watches self-identified Democrats running to mask up again.  

Postscript: Biden may no longer be enhancing his popularity by playing up health dangers. According to a Rasmussen poll published July 28, his unfavorability rating is at 52 percent; and those polled express dissatisfaction with his new COVID restriction guidelines.

About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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