On the menu today: preparing for a global war against a faceless, nonhuman enemy; what Bernie Sanders is putting at risk by staying the Democratic primary; a tough question for the president from Kevin Williamson; and some if-you-dare relationship advice from Kat Timpf.
‘We Have an Enemy in Coronavirus That Is Faceless’
I liked this short video that actor Matthew McConaughey posted last night. It’s nothing profound. Just an observation that all of us are inadvertently and unexpectedly more united at this moment that we have been in generations. No matter our politics, no matter our race, no matter our faith, no matter what we believe or where we come from — we are all now in the same situation, threatened by a virus that is trying to kill us and the ones we love. It has a better shot of killing some of us than others, but it doesn’t really care one way or another. Because it has no conscious intentions, it doesn’t intend to spare anyone.
This sort of forced unity is often a theme in alien invasion movies — the idea that we as human beings are often factional and bickering and inherently divided into tribes, up until the moment when a greater threat arrives, and then suddenly those previous differences seem immaterial. Whether you prefer War of the Worlds or Independence Day or Edge of Tomorrow, we are all threatened, worldwide, by something that is not human, is targeting people with potentially lethal force, and is not interested in negotiation. Ugly green spheres with little red prickles have landed . . . and it’s us against them. And the coronavirus may not be everywhere in the country and on earth, but it is now in all 50 states.
“We are all in this together” is often a tired and not-all-that-accurate cliché. But in this case, we are. Your decisions could well end up having enormous consequences for everyone around you. Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben told us, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” But in this case, the reverse is true. We have this great responsibility to take steps to protect each other, because we have the power to take steps to protect each other. You don’t need superpowers or advanced training or off-the-charts IQ or anything else to help in this fight. All you need is good judgment and to persistently apply it — and to be patient.
Because we can’t see the virus, we can’t be certain who has it without testing. (Even if you’re tested and the test comes back negative, you could still catch it later on.) Carriers can be asymptomatic. It’s not always easy for laymen to distinguish what they fear could be coronavirus symptoms from the flu, or the common cold, or spring allergies. We are not quite sure if, once you’ve beaten the virus, you can be re-infected. The current answer from medical experts is “once you’ve had coronavirus, you probably can’t get it a second time.”
This is going to suck. But in the long history of Americans needing to sacrifice for their fellow countrymen, this is pretty small potatoes. This isn’t being asked to storm the beaches at Normandy, or survive the winter at Valley Forge, or fight on during the Argonne offensive. (I was about to write, ‘this isn’t like being asked to survive the Great Depression,’ but I guess we should see just how bad the economy gets.) We’re going to have to put up with some considerable disruptions to our lives and some serious economic pain. But when we get to the other side of this — as McConaughey puts it, when that red light turns green — we’re all going to be able to look at each other and know that all of us, working together, saved lives. Every day, social media give us at least one daily reminder about how stupid and selfish human beings can be. This crisis is going to give us a lasting reminder of how good people can be when it counts.
And there are signs of hope. Vaccine testing is underway already. Dozens of medical research firms around the world are working on a vaccine, and several claim they’re already making progress. New research indicates the fatality rates may be lower than we initially feared, perhaps only 2.7 percent for people over age 64.
If re-infection is impossible or even rare, every day gets us a little closer to herd immunity.
And thank God — no, really, let us pause and thank God — that so far, the coronavirus seems to be a minimal threat to children.
Stubborn Bernie Sanders Undermines His Own Cause
What if the Bernie Sanders campaign doesn’t launch a socialist revolution . . . but instead effectively quashes the cause of socialism in the United States for the foreseeable future?
For starters, if Bernie Sanders doesn’t end his campaign this week, the average Democrat is going to hate him. The primary is over. Joe Biden is 286 delegates ahead of Sanders, and he’s 844 delegates away from clinching it. We knew Florida was going to be a good state for Biden, but the former vice president won 62 percent to 23 percent. Biden crushed Sanders in Illinois, 59 percent to 36 percent. And in Arizona, Biden won 44 percent to 32 percent. (A lot of votes for “other” in Arizona.)
Sanders is probably going to get curb-stomped in almost every primary from here on out, presuming that it is safe to hold primaries. As we saw in Ohio yesterday and in many other states, a lot of government officials aren’t sure it’s a good idea to have lots of people congregating and standing on line in every community in America. State officials don’t want to cancel the presidential primary entirely, but if every candidate except one drops out, they can justify that decision. Sanders alone can drive the decision for almost half the states. (As mentioned yesterday, quite a few states hold their non-presidential primaries after the Democratic national convention.) By staying in, Sanders is making these states go ahead with gatherings that put lots of people, particularly senior citizens, at greater risk. And he’s the one who’s always saying other people have to make sacrifices for the greater good! Why should so many other people live with a greater risk because he’s stubborn and doesn’t want to admit defeat?
Bernie Sanders chose to spend a portion of what is probably the past primary debate insisting that China deserves credit for “making progress in ending extreme poverty over the last 50 years.” It is always a bad time to be an apologist for the Chinese government, but this is a particularly appalling moment to insist, on national television, that the rulers in Beijing never get enough credit for the good they’ve done — which was, in large part, driven by economic pressures forcing them to shift away from socialist centralized planning and towards free-market capitalism.
If Biden loses in November, it probably won’t be primarily (no pun intended) because of Sanders. But Sanders’s refusal to withdrawal back in 2016 left bad blood among Democrats more loyal to Hillary Clinton. If the Vermont senator does the same thing two cycles in a row, most Democrats will see him as a sore loser and a troublemaker, someone who always put his own personal ambitions and vanity over the bigger picture. If this comes to pass, it will be a long time before someone says, “we need to nominate someone like Bernie Sanders.”
Some will argue that socialism is not in retreat but ascendant, at a time when the U.S. government is discussing a trillion-dollar bailout and economic stimulus. But the forces of government and business working together is standard in American life when a serious life-or-death crisis such as this one hits. Our old friend Jonah has written many times about the way progressives misuse the concept of “the moral equivalent of war” for whatever cause they deem important at any given time — the New Deal, the War on Poverty, the Great Society, the space race, the response to the Great Recession, climate change. A global pandemic that is highly contagious and particularly dangerous to the elderly and immunocompromised, and that could potentially overwhelm our hospitals and intensive-care units is indeed a threat that qualifies as the moral equivalent of war.
Even the Libertarians are thinking this is the current generation’s version of World War II.
ADDENDUM: Kevin Williamson with a fair question to the president: “Did we hire you to sit around and kvetch on Twitter about the mistakes of your predecessor, or did we hire you to fix them?”
Our Kat Timpf offers a formula to ensure maximum household chaos while you’re quarantined.