The Covid Regime Still Clings to Power
A remnant of deep blue America refuses to leave the March 2020 state of emergency.
I was checking out on Wednesday night at the Georgetown Trader Joe’s here in D.C. I paid for my eggs and had started to walk out when a little old lady, maybe 60 years old, shuffled up to the cash register as I moved away. Loudly—I think, intentionally loudly—she gushed to the cashier and to everyone else in the store: “Thank you for wearing a mask.”
I chuckled at the throwback. It was so emphatic, so sincere, and so clearly contained a jab at everyone in the store who elected not to wear a mask. This woman was Georgetown to her core, which means I could probably tell you who she voted for in every election of the last few decades. So I chuckled, because what does one crazy rich hippie matter when all the rest of us have gone back to normal?
But then I looked around. And, though I guess I’ve grown numb to it by exposure, there were a lot of masks. A lot. Never mind that these people are all, almost certainly, quadruple vaxxed. Never mind the junk science surrounding the efficacy of these face masks. Never mind that virtually all of these people would be at no risk of serious illness, to say nothing of death, if they did contract the virus. Dr. Fauci may be on his way out the door; but he lives on in the hearts of his people.
Georgetown is not representative of the country, thank goodness. But these people are a sizable minority: the remnant of deep blue America that refuses to leave the March 2020 state of emergency, in which we really didn’t know whether this new Chinese virus was an apocalyptic megakiller or something like the flu. And that minority is concentrated heavily in places like Georgetown and New York and the techy cities out west—which means they tend to have disproportionate influence of one kind or another over the rest of us.
Just that day, as it turned out, these people had been profiled in the Washington Post. Ellen McCarthy’s “Still afraid of covid: The people who are still isolating and masking” is a glimpse into another world. Some of these people have bought new homes or even moved cross-country to get further away from society and the risk of contracting Covid-19. They’ve pulled their children out of school. They’ve stopped seeing their families—though the adventurous among them might make outdoor visits if they match the sanitary conditions of an operating room. They’re vaccinating their infants and still refusing to go out into the world or let their children live a normal life.
Some of these people are actually immunocompromised, and have no choice but to take extreme precautions. Some of them are just nuts. Either way—and this is a hard truth for the former group—the desire to impose their niche self-restrictions on the whole of society is pure and simple megalomania.
One woman interviewed, three of whose children have autoimmune encephalitis, was not just “frustrated toward people who opt not to don masks in shared spaces like doctor’s offices and pharmacies” but “mostly…upset that federal health agencies aren’t issuing stricter guidelines” in 2022. This woman, who moderates several “Still COVIDing” Facebook groups, would be entirely correct to take every reasonable precaution for the sake of her children’s health. She moves onto shakier ground when she withdraws her children from society for fear of what has become, effectively, one virus among all the others. And she moves beyond the pale when she asks that everyone else be pushed into the same extremism. (Her husband couldn’t handle the bunker lifestyle and moved back to Colorado, the home they had fled at the beginning of the pandemic.)
There was a time when this hysteria was widespread, and enjoyed the unequivocal endorsement of the state. Its most religious believers don’t know what to do without that. As another of them told the Post: “I didn’t feel draconian before, and I feel draconian now. Everyone seems to have abandoned the things that were de rigueur before.”
Just over a decade ago, a left-wing midwit named Corey Robin wrote a very bad book called The Reactionary Mind (not to be confused with TAC contributing editor Michael Warren Davis’s 2022 book of the same name, which is much more fun). In the lesser Reactionary Mind, Robin defined conservatism as “a meditation on—and theoretical rendition of—the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back.”
This is a wild combination of pompous over-theorizing and transparent projection. It ascribes to conservatism (which is the practice of being normal) the very modern tendency to view anything and everything in reductionist terms of power.
What the reactionaries Robin skewers see threatened is social order—a civilization in accordance with the natural law. Campaigns like the restoration of a humane economy, the defense of the sanctity of life, and the protection of the natural family are pursued not for power over enemies but as goods in their own right. The same cannot be said of the post-2020 hygiene regime, which has not only no just end but no substantive end at all. It actually is power for power’s sake.
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There is a difference between good things and bad things. For months in most places and years in others, the bureaucrat-priests of the medical hierarchy suspended not just the principles of public justice but the dictates of common sense. We are well beyond the point of pretending this was done for the common good. Covid-19 provided the pretext for a massive accumulation of state power with little to no connection to the emergency at hand. It set off a wholesale reorganization of society, and placed a technocratic faction of the radical left even more firmly on top than it had been. They got power; they see it threatened; they’re trying to win it back.
But the lunatics and tyrants who did this still hold much of that power, for now—at the national level, in many of the states, in the entire superstate market, and in all-important micro-power-centers like school boards. Their grip is slipping, though. And they’re about to get pummeled in an election.
Sovereign is he who decides on the exception. That may not be the Covidcrats for much longer.