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What a Country

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A shirt hangs outside of a store during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Aug. 7, 2020 in Sturgis, S.D.

I’m reading this op-ed from a few days ago saying the U.S. should do a hard lockdown, get control over the virus, and then start over. I’m both nodding in agreement and wondering…what country do these people think we live in?

To successfully drive down our case rate to less than one per 100,000 people per day, we should mandate sheltering in place for everyone but the truly essential workers. By that, we mean people must stay at home and leave only for essential reasons: food shopping and visits to doctors and pharmacies while wearing masks and washing hands frequently. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 39 percent of workers in the United States are in essential categories. The problem with the March-to-May lockdown was that it was not uniformly stringent across the country. For example, Minnesota deemed 78 percent of its workers essential. To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible.

If we aren’t willing to take this action, millions more cases with many more deaths are likely before a vaccine might be available. In addition, the economic recovery will be much slower, with far more business failures and high unemployment for the next year or two. The path of the virus will determine the path of the economy. There won’t be a robust economic recovery until we get control of the virus.

I mean, sure, this makes all the sense in the world. Except that it is disconnected from a nation where Sturgis happens every summer. These little snippet interviews are pretty amazing. I mean, this is the precise demographic that is going to spread this around without caring–white, largely but not exclusively older, very libertarian in mindset and probably inconsistent in politics. Lots of Trump lovers no doubt, but even more just a lot of people who don’t want to be told what to do and have lived their entire life in a nation that has empowered them to think that no one can tell them what to do.

I mean, maybe if we have a real leader in the White House, Sturgis is cancelled. But maybe not. Certainly the governor of South Dakota is all in on it and would be if Hillary or Biden or anyone else was in the White House. This is why I think solely placing the blame for this national disaster on Trump is both reductionist and allows us to not ask the hard questions about our nation and its cult of selfish individualism, one that isn’t so different from anti-vaxxers or people who refuse to vote for a particular candidate if said person doesn’t check all of their personal boxes, as if politics was like your tattoo. The problems in this nation run deep, very deep, and Trump is more the scariest symptom than the root cause.

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