We are not the same country that we were just a few years ago. However unfortunate it may be to realize it, COVID has changed the political identity of America. To put it bluntly, it has become normal to expect that the government can close your business, robbing you of your livelihood and your family of the fruits of your labor, in order to protect hospital infrastructure and personnel.
Last March, that was the argument that propelled America into lockdown. Just “fifteen days to flatten the curve,” we were told. The prospect of some hospitals, in a very specific few locations, becoming overwhelmed by COVID patients caused the bulk of the economy to shut down and civil liberties to be suspended.
Fifteen days of lockdown and social distancing and school closures, if you remember, became “until Easter,” which became “until the spread slows,” which became “until the number of new cases fall,” which became “if everyone just wore masks, we could get back to normal,” which became “we can’t open until we get a vaccine,” which became “even vaccinated people should mask up and socially distance,” which became “oops, obviously the vaccine is super safe for anyone who’s taken it, so if you’ve taken it, you don’t have to distance or wear masks.”
It’s hard to miss the trajectory of our free-fall down the fabled “slippery slope” toward ideological authoritarianism, but in case we had any doubt, the federal government has just signified that it will be sending agents, door-to-door, to homes of the unvaccinated (the identities of whom are ostensibly protected by a federal “right” to health privacy), and that the federal government is working hand-in-hand with social media companies to ensure that only government-approved health propaganda can be distributed in the most prominent e-town squares.