The manufactured stupidity of coronavirus partisanship
The official South Dakota guidance for coronavirus advises: “Stay at home ... except to run essential errands or seek medical attention” and “everyone should wear a cloth mask in public.” In two counties, Gov. Noem has ordered all people over 65 to stay home, but she has pointedly resisted issuing a stay-at-home order. Why? Most of us understand that stay-at-home orders are temporary health measures, but some people see an encroaching police state and the death of civil liberties.
What I see here is a phenomenon of people on the right constantly boxing themselves in with rhetoric that casts every issue in fundamental terms of freedom and identity rather than mundane good sense, which hurts all of us. I live in South Dakota and fear going to the grocery store because it's taken a month for people to start to shake off the bullshit fed to them by Trump and FOX News. People are cautious now in spite of their leadership, but for weeks they were cowed into ignoring their common sense. The governor can't take rational steps that mayors throughout the state are begging her to take because now, and over decades, every damn Republican argument about anything has been framed in terms of freedom and evil Democrats.
How can you change course when you have defined a pandemic, like everything else, in partisan terms? Republican politics are ringfenced by a dogma of rhetorical positions in which every issue is amped up to "you might as well torch the constitution if I can't have a bazooka" and everything proposed by a Democrat is a last-minute harbinger of the country being stormed by jack-booted bureaucrats aided by sleeper cells of Marxist kindergarten teachers leaping out of the bushes.
It's pretty shocking to me how many people are viewing this extraordinary health emergency through the prism of a police state and the sneaking theft of civil liberties. If there's a storm and the police cordon off a park because a power line is down, is that an outrageous attack on your liberty? This is no different, it's just a different hazard that requires a different set of safety measures. Temporarily. Do people think they're going to be confined to their houses for the rest of their lives? Really? Now that the Democrats – why are people not concerned about the Republican who claims he has "total authority" to order anything he wants? bizarre – have gotten a taste for keeping people in their homes ... what? Are they going to roller skate down empty boulevards? What's the evil game-plan?
This is the result of a paranoia created by years of rash rhetoric that dramatizes and demonizes everything to the point that people are so hyped up on it that they're screaming “freedom” when you ask them not to cough on their grandmothers.
Our politics are shaped by rhetoric that is flat-out bonkers and politicians who can't make common-sense policy because they can't cross their hoodwinked followers, whom they have convinced for political gain that their profoundest interests are perpetually at risk over every fucking issue. Let's get some clear heads.