2020 Forever

Ride an escalator in New York’s Penn Station, and a voice will coach you all the way up: “Face front at all times. Always hold the handrail . . .” In the subway, another voice warns you not to stand close to the edge of the platform, especially when a train is coming. A poster on the wall asks you to wear a mask, even if you’re vaccinated. A voice on the train reminds you that “courtesy is contagious, and it begins with you.” Another government poster offers, for no obvious reason, that “Ambition is Ageless: #CombatAgeism.”

If one were to judge a group of people solely based on what their government thinks of them, one could be forgiven for concluding that New York is populated exclusively by subnormal morons who can barely be trusted to walk upright. It is no wonder, then, that COVID-19 is such an enduring problem in the city, while down in Florida they seem to have forgotten it exists.

Want to go to a museum in New York? Show proof of vaccination at the door, and then wear a mask the whole time you’re there. Want to eat indoors? Proof of vaccination. Go to the gym? Proof of vaccination. And a mask: You must wear a mask while you run on the treadmill, for your own safety.

Are you a child, or an idiot? The government seems to think both.

In Florida, meanwhile, I went to a NASCAR race at Daytona this summer with about 100,000 other people and not a mask among us. The only papers we needed were our tickets. The race began, as it always does, with a benediction invoking God’s protection (it would seem successfully) followed by a stirring rendition of the National Anthem and a smattering of fireworks. There were no symptoms of the national panic the government feels is appropriate to our times.

The popular press recently has been reduced to running pieces on why Florida’s low COVID rates are “misleading.” The press wants you to know that things are worse than they look in Florida, and better than they look in the parts of the country that are governed according to their own ideas.

This is strangely reminiscent of my seventh grade American history textbook, which asserted that during the Carter years, bad circumstances (what Barack Obama would call “headwinds”) overwhelmed Jimmy’s good policies, whereas during the Reagan years, good luck prevented Ronnie’s bad ideas from ruining everything.

In most of Florida, and most of the south, COVID-19 is a thing of the past, remembered more for the deleterious actions of government than for the damage wrought by the disease itself. Almost the only place COVID still exists in Florida is in facilities run by Washington, D.C.: Drive an hour south from Daytona to the NASA-operated Kennedy Space Center, and masks are compulsory indoors, where it’s 2020 forever. (Though vaccinated people are permitted to remove their masks—for the outdoor exhibits.)

These tiny government islands of COVID, surrounded on all sides by total normality, are reminiscent of the 2013 shutdown where Obama directed fences to be put up around all the open-air monuments in Washington, just to show people they were “closed.” This is an organized-crime-style, protection-racket government: They don’t make life better when you do what they say; they make life worse when you don’t.

In New York, I don’t follow the rules, and I pay the price: I don’t carry proof of vaccination because it’s nobody’s business whether I’m vaccinated or not. As a result, the only part of the city I can currently enjoy is Central Park, where cigarettes are banned but the authorities take a more lenient view of drug use, public indecency, and the occaisional murder. 

How long will these restrictions go on? As people are finding out in California and New York and all across Europe, the intention is that they should go on forever. They should go on until walking in public with your face exposed is as unacceptable in our culture as it is for women under strict Islamic law. Until any restaurant is entitled (and required) to check your medical history at the door. Until we’ve accepted that the only safe social interactions are those that happen in a digital metaverse where “bad” conversations can simply be switched off, after being reported to the FBI.

Life in New York today is what the Left dreams of as a model for every town in America, coming soon to a police state near you.

But New York isn’t dead, as James Altucher claimed last year in a column for the New York Post. It just has a lot more government than it needs. The best, happiest life you can enjoy in America is as far away from the government as you can get. Until the blue states figure out that I don’t need their medical advice any more than I need to be told how to ride an escalator, you’ll find me down in the red states, enjoying what you might call unassisted adult living.

About Dan Gelernter

Dan Gelernter is a columnist for American Greatness living in Connecticut.

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

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