Can Dems Cut Off the COVID Anchor?


Republicans made a massive comeback in elections on Tuesday night. It wasn’t just Virginia and the foibles of Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Overall Republican strength led to a dramatically changed legislature in Virginia. The same dynamic made the race in New Jersey close. Republicans were taking over local offices all over Long Island. And progressive ballot initiatives went down hard across the country.

Even on the night of the results, commentators started re-thinking long cherished political truisms like “larger turnout helps Democrats.” Or that Democrats “own” education issues. After the 2020 election, I worried that the Republican Party was “neither fish, nor fowl, that without Trump at the top of the ticket, the GOP would shed some of the rural voters Trump brought into the party, along with certain populists. However, with enough of Trump’s shouting still bouncing off the walls in the room, it could have trouble winning back suburbanites who were driven away by the Orange Man. The results in Georgia this January seemed to confirm this thesis.

Well, I was wrong. Youngkin performed exceptionally well — arguably better than Trump in the most rural Virginia counties. And he made huge inroads into the upwardly mobile suburbs that Trump had been shedding. The tent is noticeably bigger.

It wasn’t one silver-bullet issue, like education. Democrats are weakened by a weak president. Biden has abysmally low approval ratings for a first-year president. Democrats can’t even decide what their governing agenda is in Build Back Better. They’ve teased voters with promises of child-care or universal pre-K, but even on Election Day, the bill suddenly morphed into an enormous tax cut for affluent New Yorkers and Californians.

But I walk away from these results and wonder if the COVID Trap has sprung and caught Democrats. Just last month, I wrote that the Democratic Party was in the thrall of public-health maximalism: “Democrats are in danger of pandering to this overly fearful segment of the population, which demands for mitigation measures that are unnecessary and onerous, or coercive measures that can lead to political disaffection and backlash. ”

The fact is, the United States helped launch three successful COVID-19 vaccines, and the uptake of these vaccines in America was the fastest immunization drive in our history by miles. And yet, Democrats still won’t declare victory and move on, leaving the issue hostage to the significant minority of vax-skeptical Americans, who are distributed between both parties. They are mired in a quagmire public-health conflict, in which they cannot name a public-health objective that must be achieved before we can relent with closures, masks, and mandates. My own view is that what they really want is some kind of acknowledgement of moral and intellectual superiority from “deniers.” This will never come.

According to a Washington Post survey of the exit polling in Virginia, “Voters who prioritized the coronavirus pandemic were the only issue group to back McAuliffe, by more than 60 points, though they accounted for just about 1 in 7 voters.”

The economy was cited as the top issue for voters in Virginia. And obviously schools were another important issue, where Youngkin trounced McAuliffe. Both of these issues are tied up in the pandemic. After all, the supply-chain disruption that drives inflation is itself driven by the pandemic conditions. And the closures, Zoom classes, and even “mental health” breaks that were demanded by teachers during the pandemic emphasized the newly adversarial role schools played in public life.

Some of these adverse results for Democrats were deep into blue territory. Does New York’s barely known governor Kathy Hochul want to face voters while defending mask mandates for 2-year-olds? Do members of Congress want to face reelection with blue-state Democrats mandating the vaccine for 5-year-olds who are already safer from COVID-19 than vaccinated teachers?

Joe Biden and the Democrats took power during a state of exception, during a crisis. Voters expected them to bring it to a close. When will they?

Can Dems Cut Off the COVID Anchor? Can Dems Cut Off the COVID Anchor? Reviewed by Your Destination on November 03, 2021 Rating: 5

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