The safest take on the coronavirus pandemic has always been uncertainty. There is so much about this virus we do not know, and, as a result, so little we can pronounce with justified confidence. The information we have is misleading or incomplete more often than not; models accordingly need frequent revision; and it seems there are exceptions to every plausible rule.
Unfortunately, uncertainty doesn't play well in politics, and long-formed habits of confident statements by officials, experts, and pundits were not broken by the appearance of COVID-19. The result is many things many people have said with at least an affect of strong certainty have been proven wrong. Many more of these things will be proven wrong over the next month or two, as states implement varying plans to re-open their economies.
In these coming weeks, then, it will increasingly become time for apologies. If we hope to come out of this with anything left of public trust in expertise and institutions, those who got it wrong must be willing to say so.
It's interesting to see this kind of thing from a left-wing publication. I'm not sure if the author realizes just how much the Twitterati and other raging netizens influence the modern Democratic party: I highly doubt that apologies are forthcoming. On the contrary, I expect most of them to double down on everything. Lockdowns being extended until August in some places suggests that I am right.
The whole thing reminds me of a great Conan the Barbarian story! It's called "the Tower of the Elephant" and it is one of the best pulp fiction stories ever written and yes, spoilers follow.
At the end of the Tower of the Elephant, the villain is presented with a magical gem that will destroy him if he tries to use it. Even though he knows this, he is possessed of certain personality quirks (let's call it a form of "narcissistic personality disorder") that make him unable to resist trying to use the gem and as such, he is destroyed, even though he fully understands that attempting to use the gem would destroy him.
I've come to believe that many Democratic politicians (and many of their supporters) are possessed of a certain form of narcissistic personality disorder as well. It makes them unable to resist a certain kind of behavior, namely: if they can hurt someone but plausibly claim that they thought they were trying to help, they will not be able to resist doing such a thing. And these coronavirus lockdowns fit that mold perfectly.
Here's what the lockdowns can do:
- they screw over those who have the audacity to live off of their work instead of relying on our saviors
- protect "the environment"
- promote "basic income" and communism because the government is basically forced to give out money when there's a lockdown
- even if one is pushing all of these things and they are hurting people, one can claim to be a hero
Here's what the lockdowns actually do:
- Cuomo is never getting past his nursing home scandal, which collided with likely inflated numbers to make him look either incompetent or insane
- Various Californian politicians have people locked down until August and have said that they may do it for longer
- mass, uncontrollable civil disobedience in "safe blue" places like New York city and New Jersey
- conservatives in Florida, Georgia etc. looking smart and effective in comparison
Those are incomplete lists. Just wait until people start asking Democratic Presidential candidates, "if there is another coronavirus, would you lock down the entire country until there's a vaccine?" Most of them would answer yes. Anyone should be able to tell that it's time to apologize over how this thing has gone but to a certain kind of person, mass civil disobedience is merely proof that you are smarter than everyone else. Being proven wrong only changes the types of insults that will be employed. To this kind of person, the power to prescribe lockdowns are the perfect poison, the elephant tower gem, Gollum's ring from Lord of the Rings, whatever. I don't think they will be able to stop themselves and I think it's going to set them back politically for decades, decades that they may not have.