Still Can’t Let This Go

At some point, it seems, elected officials- or at least certain elected officials- become powerless in the face of public sentiment.

If the polls reveal, for example, frustration with covid-19 restrictions, Governor Whitmer can no longer exercise the power vested in her to guide her state through whatever remains of the pandemic, even as Michigan finds itself in the throes of what is looking like a fourth surge.

The public is saying “no more shutdowns or quarantines,” and she apparently has to listen to the public, even though the safe and practical thing to do would be to shut down and quarantine, along with bolstering vaccinations, which apparently the Fed has its reasons for not doing.

By and large, enough of the public, throughout this whole ordeal, has come across as impatient, rebellious, and somehow better informed and smarter than the ones who have dealt with infectious diseases all their working lives. It has been a constant battle between those who want to preserve the precious economy and their “freedom,” and those who recognize this rare circumstance as a time for drastic measures in order to save lives.

I’ve always wondered if those who want to forge ahead as if nothing is different really are as cold-hearted and ignorant as they seem. This is a bona fide pandemic, a public health emergency of the first magnitude, yet all that really seems to matter to many is carrying on as if nothing extraordinary is happening. It has been a constant, wearisome battle. A constant clash of philosophies of governance, exacerbated by the outsized influence of social and partisan media. Reason and safety lie in the eye of the beholder. There has never been common ground, always more than enough resistance that has kept us from ever getting the upper hand.

Life is a crap shoot here in America, plain and simple. There is no one set of rules or guidelines we all follow when faced with a threat to our common existence. It’s always “every person for themselves” coupled with a suspicion of authority, and a debilitating lack of trust. We’ll never manage more than a gimpy walk to the finish line. 

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