FRIDAY UPDATE: Oh, neat. President Trump is now ENCOURAGING this behavior.
Views from a MAGA rally/government protest in Lansing, Michigan on Wednesday
Right-wing Republicans across the country are shaking their fists at stay-at-home restrictions because the coronavirus wouldn’t respond to their complaints. As a result, this week has seen ridiculous protests in places like Michigan, and Colorado is next on the list.
Organizers are planning an event called “Operation Gridlock Denver” (we’re not linking to any of this nonsense) that will take place on Sunday. Yes, you read that correctly. “Gridlock” on a Sunday. Planners of this event are stressing that people who attend should remain in their cars to protest stay-at-home orders, because you are obviously more likely to get infected by COVID-19 if you are out milling around with other people. If you don’t already understand the irony here, then we certainly can’t explain it any better.
Before anyone gets too carried away in thinking that these “protestors” represent more than a small percentage of like-minded morons, there are a few important points we’d like to address:
The Vast Majority of Americans Absolutely Do NOT Agree
A new poll from POLITICO/Morning Consult shows that 8 in 10 Americans are in no hurry to end social distancing practices because they are (rightly) scared of COVID-19:
More than eight in 10 voters, 81 percent, say Americans “should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means continued damage to the economy.” Only 10 percent say Americans “should stop social distancing to stimulate the economy, even if it means increasing the spread of coronavirus.”
Those poll numbers track with what Gallup has been following. Even after government restrictions on social contact are lifted, 71% of Americans would “wait to see what happens with the coronavirus” before resuming “normal activities.”
Across the country, the Governors who have been leading the way on issuing stay-at-home guidance are viewed exponentially more favorably than President Trump, whose approval ratings are plummeting. In our state, 75% of Coloradans approve of the way that Gov. Jared Polis has responded to the coronavirus outbreak, compared to about 43% who approve of how Trump has handled the situation.
Protest Arguments Make No Logical Sense Whatsoever
This interview with a protestor in Michigan should speak for itself:
In case you can’t see the interview, it features a guy wearing a mask covering most of his face saying that coronavirus concerns are overblown. You don’t have to be House Minority Leader Patrick Neville to say something stupid about social distancing measures.
As we know from multiple failed recall attempts by a small band of right-wing grifters, the most outspoken of protestors don’t necessarily ply their trade with logic. Nevertheless, it’s important to point out the flawed reasoning here. Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, artfully explained for POLITICO why arguments opposing social distancing are lunacy:
A good example of the genre is an op-ed co-authored by former Education Secretary William Bennett and talk radio host and author Seth Leibsohn . It is titled, tendentiously and not very accurately, “Coronavirus Lessons: Fact and Reason vs. Paranoia and Fear.” Bennett and Leibsohn are intelligent and public-spirited men whom I’ve known for years, but they’ve got this wrong, and in rather elementary ways.
They cite the latest estimate of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington state that the current outbreak will kill 68,000 Americans. Then, they note that about 60,000 people died of the flu in 2017-18. For this, they thunder, we’ve scared Americans and imposed huge economic and social costs on the country.
This is such an obviously flawed way of looking at the question, it’s hard to believe that Bennett and Leibsohn don’t realize it.
If we are going to have 60,000 deaths with people not leaving their homes for more than a month, the number of deaths obviously would have been higher—much higher—if everyone had gone about business as usual. We didn’t lock down the country to try to prevent 60,000 deaths; we locked down the country to limit deaths to 60,000 (or whatever the ultimate toll is) from what would have been a number multiples larger. [Pols emphasis]
By Bennett and Leibsohn ’s logic, we could just as easily ask: Why did we expend all that blood and treasure fighting Hitler when he couldn’t even take Britain or conquer Moscow? Why did we adopt tough-on-crime policies, when crime rates are at historic lows? Why did we work so hard to find a treatment for HIV/AIDs, when so many of the people with the disease now have normal life expectancies?
Of course, it was precisely the actions we took that caused those welcome outcomes.
It’s probably not just top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway who believes that “COVID-19” means there were 18 other “COVIDs” that came before it.
There are definitely a few people who will head to Denver on Sunday to yell at the Capitol Building, and they absolutely have the right to do so. Let’s just not pretend that they represent the majority opinion of Coloradans on staying protected from COVID-19.