The Political Timing of the End of the Pandemic
At some point in the relatively near future, President Joe Biden will be handed a speech that will read something like this:
“My Fellow Americans -- Our long national nightmare is over. The pandemic is a thing of the past and I am ordering the end of all federal COVID-related efforts and I implore those governors who have not lifted their emergency orders to do so immediately. It’s time for all of us to get back to normal.”
Given Biden’s speech and cognition issues, he will most likely actually say ‘My Felericans -- our long natural fair is covered,” but that is beside the point -- his political facts of life demand that this moment must occur within the next few months.
With the abject failure -- so far -- of his massive wokedream spending package and the egregious attempt to federalize all elections, the Biden administration needs a very big win before November, and what could be simpler and easier than simply declaring one? Democrat hopes that the January 6 “insurrection” would provide one seem to be coming up short, despite someone, desperately in need of a talking point, recently shaking Attorney General Merrick Garland by the lapels to get him to finally file the first and only “sedition” related charges. (It should be noted here that people who engage in treason tend not to leave their guns at home to comply with local law, or call a few days later to ask if they accidentally left their coat behind, or make sure that the whole thing is wrapped up in time for dinner… but I digress.)
Now, predictions are like politicians -- everyone’s got one and they are usually wrong. However, as to this issue, the only question is one of timing: political timing.
Laying the groundwork (or softening up the enemy, whichever is preferred) is underway; the prequel to official vanquishing of the virus has already begun.
It is not coincidental that the media -- and even the CDC -- has been recently noting there may actually be a difference between dying “with COVID” and “from COVID.” There has also been some movement on focusing on death rates instead of case rates, especially since Omicron tends not to be much worse than the icky sniffles and the fact that triple-masked, restaurant scolding, self-quarantining, uber-vaccinated types are getting Omicron in large numbers and adding to the once all-telling, panic driving case count.
To be blunt, this effort has been about as subtle as Ralphie’s attempts to get a Red Ryder BB gun in A Christmas Story, but even some of these baby steps -- clomps, really -- have provoked outrage from pandemic purists, hence the delicacy. The backlash from the true believers to the CDC mentioning that maybe people should only quarantine for five days instead of 10 was swift and harsh and would have been hysterical if it weren’t so troubling.
The dedicated pandemicists who have defined their lives over the past 20-odd months by their strict adherence to the SCIENCE reacted to the news as if they were members of an end-of-the-world cult after a predicted doomsday came and went without a whimper. “Oh, sorry -- we sure the world is still going to end on a Thursday but it turns out we’re not really sure which Thursday of what year, so please stick with us” the cult leaders try to tell their followers shortly before they are torn limb from limb. It must be a terrible thing to have the very core of one’s existence shattered by a bureaucrat; therefore the word must come from “on high” if they are to be kept quiet.
For most other people, the reaction to such an announcement will range from “no kidding, Sherlock,” to being somewhat pleased they can now go to a party without going to the doctor first, to glad they don’t have to remember to carry a mask around, to happy (maybe?) the kids are back in school for good this time and back again to “no kidding, Sherlock.”
But what Biden and the Democrats are really hoping for is a reaction of “thankyou, thankyou, thankyou, you’re our savior -- how many times can we vote for the people you want us to vote for?”
Which brings us back to the matter of timing -- too soon and your message of “I freed you, now you must vote for me” may lose its impact by November; too late and the national angst may build even further and, crucially, you miss the primary season.
Of course, it would be handy to tie the announcement to some real or manufactured “good news” on the virus, but it’s not strictly necessary -- why bother to stop playing politics with COVID now?
Announcing in early May -- which could have a nice “you’re now allowed to go have a Memorial Day backyard barbecue!” hook -- would help certain candidates in some rather key states -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, for example, all hold votes in that month with New Jersey, California, and New York going to the polls shortly thereafter.
The problem with this timing is that it could come too late to influence early/absentee voters, which is - as we have seen -- an extremely important voting bloc for Democrats. To tap that vein would necessitate an April announcement -- about no more than 10 weeks away, which could be too soon.
Tying it, as Biden attempted to do last year, to the next major holiday -- the Fourth of July -- would give a bit more time for the seeds of the strategy to be sown and could inculcate fond and strong memories in people but it does miss the important primary window (and making an announcement in April that everything will be over by then misses the entire point of the effort and is too muddy and too unbelievable to move the needle).
Which brings us to just before Labor Day, which is handy to jump-start fall campaigns but could be too late to build up any general goodwill.
As for just holding on like grim death to the power they have accrued (and the ratings and clicks they have gotten) over the past 20 months, even lifelong criminals know in their hearts when the jig is up and the marching orders will be reluctantly followed. The faceless (literally in this case) bureaucrats may whine and moan but they will eventually slither away -- like the tree in the forest, if no one hears a public health official order masks for two-year-olds, does it really happen? Anyway, they can just wait around for -- or create -- the next one.
So mark your calendars, my Felericans -- we shall soon be able to breathe free.
Thomas Buckley is the former mayor of Lake Elsinore and a former newspaper reporter. He is currently the operator of a small communications and planning consultancy and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more of his work at https://thomas699.substack.com.