A year ago, anyone who suggested COVID restrictions were unreasonable policies that didn’t work was dismissed as an uncaring, selfish person who wanted to see people dead.
If you questioned the efficacy of masks, it was because you didn’t care whether vulnerable elderly citizens died. If you challenged school lockdowns, it was because you wanted teachers to get sick and suffer. If you questioned whether the COVID vaccines would actually eradicate the virus, it was because you were a radical anti-vaxxer.
Now, that narrative is shifting. Medical experts are openly admitting the cloth masks they pushed on the public don’t work. The emotional and mental toll that remote learning and forced isolation have taken on children is finally being acknowledged. And public health officials, who for so long demanded that we change our lifestyles to accommodate the pandemic, are revising their policies in recognition that there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
If I weren’t such a cynic, I might consider this shift vindication. But right now, it’s hard to see it as anything but a political calculation. Tens of thousands of vaccinated and unvaccinated adults alike are testing positive for COVID amid this new wave, which means it’s no longer possible to frame the pandemic through a good vs. evil lens. All of the “good” people — the ones who got their boosters and never stopped wearing masks and made sure to lecture everyone else who wasn’t as cautious as they were — are catching the omicron variant and spreading it to others at about the same rate as the “evil” people. All the people looking down their noses for so long are now walking and talking disease vectors, just like those dirty unvaccinated folks down South who love Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and believe ivermectin works.
It turns out viruses don’t care about your morality. Sometimes they don't even differentiate between those who were careful and those who weren’t. If you’re a human being with a beating heart, COVID is going to infect you. It’s not a matter of if, but of when.
The only reason Democrats are starting to admit this now is that it’s no longer politically useful not to. COVID restrictions clearly have not worked. What's more, they’re only becoming more and more unpopular, as are the officials who support them.
That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised their quarantine guidance this week, saying those who contract COVID only have to self-isolate for five days rather than 10. As CDC Director Rochelle Walensky admitted this week, the change didn’t have anything to do with science or health but was about what people are willing to “tolerate.”
That’s why Biden admitted during a conference call with governors last week that there is “no federal solution” to COVID, just months after he demanded that GOP governors who opposed COVID restrictions “get out of [his] way.”
That’s why Washington Post columnist Jen Rubin, who might as well be on the Biden White House’s payroll, acknowledged on Tuesday that COVID “is not a deadly or even severe disease” for most of the population, less than a year after she slammed Texas’s “wholly irresponsible” government for lifting its mask mandate and all social distancing restrictions.
They’ll try to claim their opinions changed because the science changed. But the fact is the only thing that has changed over the past year is the public’s willingness to put up with public health officials’ lies and the Biden administration’s constant goalpost-shifting.
Democrats are starting to see that for the political threat it is. It is now up to those of us who asked the right questions, and were vilified for it, to remember and hold them accountable.