Gavin Newsom defeated his recall, with nearly 64 percent of Californians voting to retain their current unpopular governor. Not a few California Republicans, who are outnumbered by Democrats in the state by two to one, were stunned. A strong candidate like Larry Elder, who never stumbled, showing a tight race in the polls, had a shot to win. Right?
Indeed, some Republicans are pointing to reports of sudden changes in reported tabulation and anecdotal reports of Republicans having to cast provisional ballots because polling stations purported to have a record of a vote they did not cast.
I, too, question whether the election involved some ballot fraud. It’s not wrong to question it. If a democratic ethos required never questioning elections, we would not have the Voting Rights Act. Democrats in California are too zealous, and too infiltrated by bad people (like the woman who, in the style of her antecedents, attacked Larry Elder while wearing a gorilla mask), not to play that game. All this said, given the ratios of Ds and Rs in California, I doubt fraud changed the outcome.
Back to Republican disbelief: one feature of today’s polarization is the delusion that because I feel something intensely others must share, at least secretly, my view. How could they not? It’s just common sense.
Common sense has nothing to do with today’s most popular and best promoted political opinions.
The truth is many people like very much the COVID-19 lockdowns, masking, social distancing, vaccines, and vax mandates. These things assure them that although matters may not be under control, there exists a benevolent power to bring them under control.
The lockdowns, the masks, the distancing, the vaccines, and the vax mandates are like the inflatable Mae West life vest under an airline seat: a comfort, required by the government, that data shows to be nearly useless. The inflatables assure passengers that should your flight have to ditch in the North Atlantic, Plan B will be triggered. The cost of ferrying and maintaining the dead weight under your seat is undetectable, and the psychological benefit is high. There is not much to complain about.
But for people who value their liberty, their health, and their children’s education and development, the lockdowns, the masks, the distancing, the vaccines, and the vax mandates have an immediate, tangible cost. There is much to complain about.
In his inaugural speech, John F. Kennedy risibly—or fantastically, depending on your delusions—offered the half-truth that “man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.”
Sixty years on, America’s middle class is now essentially poor, working two jobs and broken by the cost of credentialing their children. America’s ultra-poor are, in many cases, living in a shooting gallery.
Even for those who do not believe in the power of technology and government to rid us of all forms of human poverty, Newsom voters believe that technology and government can do it, in the case of COVID, because if they can’t . . . well, death is just too damn scary to accept that.
Younger people are, apparently, freezing their sperm because they believe they are going to live to be 120 and are seeking to put off their full maturation (child bearing and rearing) to 45 or 50.
The belief that one is going to live to be 120—despite all the evidence from Depends to dementia that this may be undesirable—is simply fear of death becoming fear of new life. The belief that you can interrupt and impair schooling of children for fear of infectious disease is another denomination of the same coin.
As readers of Charlotte’s Web know, even if Charlotte had not made little spiders in August she nonetheless would not have been around to write “SOME PIG” for Wilbur the following Spring. Death is a permanent truth. E.B. White thought children ought to know that. Today, many adults do not.
This fear of death is intimately connected to the new religion, wokeism, of which Newsom is a deacon, if not a high priest. Wokeism is intertwined with changes in our class structures, in part an enforcement and permission mechanism for the oligarchic interests controlling our economy. “Hello, is this the French Laundry? Newsom, table for 12 tonight.” This is tolerated because Newsom is woke.
Fraud that it is, wokeism’s appeal is powerful.
If technology and government cannot nullify the trepidation these poor souls feel about the “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns,” maybe wokeism can?
Will the knowledge that I have redeemed myself through wokeism soften the final moment when I ask, Did I deserve to live in the first place?
We are not wrestling with people’s common sense. And what is obvious to our common sense is secondary in overcoming the political challenges we face. First and foremost is the condemnation of superstition.