These last 13 months I’ve been as terrified as I’ve ever been – terrified that we had lost everything vibrant and good in our society, and terrified that we would lose at least a year but probably more. When the lockdownists started to redescribe their preferences as facts towards the end of the summer of 2020 with the spate of “we’re30151-8/fulltext) never going back to the old normal” articles, I thought they might be right. Once shell shocked we wont return, not after the inevitable second wave that was always going to come with a respiratory virus that didn’t really hit most places until spring, I feared.
I don’t think so anymore.
I think we’ve literally just reached a tipping point as of this week that was building for some time.
I was initially very worried after the lockdownists seemed determined to insist that the vaccines change nothing narrative followed up by the variant/scariant narrative seemed designed to keep the lockdownists in their preferred comfortable hermitages for as long as possible.
It’s run out of steam though.
Places like Sweden, South Dakota and Florida were initially outlier responses. Red states in America and most of the Trump-like governments around the world locked down hard too.
This time the lockdownists couldn’t keep the narrative in line: the consensus was that there was no such surge, and nearly all the red states fully reopened without masks.
There were some signs the lockdownists were getting nervous: a lot of articles started coming out with how much they loved lockdown…and when something goes from being spoken of as a regrettable necessity to defended as openly desirable, it’s probably because it feels like the justification is slipping.
But as you know, politics in America are extremely polarized and elite public opinion is mostly Democratic. As long as California, New York and the White House can hold onto their devotion to lockdownism, it seemed like the big cities and coasts and blue states could continue this way forever.
**But I think we now have reason to think a tipping point has been reached**.
Now, blue states are starting to lift mask mandates – first the libertarian influenced blue states like Colorado and New Hampshire, but now blue cities in red states are starting to lift outdoor mask ordinances.
What really struck me though, is seeing evidence that the commitment to lockdownist policies in the Northeast – which is perhaps even more culturally committed to Democratic politics than the West Coast (in New England even rural counties are mostly Democratic) – starting to buckle.
The extremist governor of Connecticut who never let bars open is ending the Connecticut outdoor mask mandate and ending non-mask indoor restrictions. Vermont and Massachusetts and New York are getting pressure on masks from their own lefty media. Even California is being scrutinized this way when ‘masks are necessary’ was an article of faith.
The tone looks to be changing: it is not if but when, even in the most lockdownist areas.
Lockdownism has a chance of retaining its political and cultural dominance. Maybe there will be a century long dark age of on and off lockdowns. More realistically, there will almost certainly be an attempt to revive lockdownism the next time there’s a novel virus (which happens pretty often). But I think the trends described above provide a basis for optimism.
This is a very Americocentric post – but then, the political culture of lockdown is probably strongest in America – in Europe for the most part people resume normal life when they’re permitted, less so in the Democratic aligned parts of the United States. Europe and Canada may have adopted more extreme measures, but they are behind the US in vaccination rollout, and, generally US cultural norms have an outsized influence over the west (some places more than others granted).
There is still a lot of public discourse and communication work to be done before this is fully and totally over when it’s over, and even more to ensure that this wont happen again. If the unnamed ideology of lockdownism isn’t buried along with its practice, it will likely be brought back at the next opportunity by the same people who ushered it in this time. But I think we now have real grounds for optimism that we didn’t have even a few weeks ago.
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