The personality of the typical American – often to their credit and occasionally to their benefit – is marked by a broad streak of what is probably best described as cussedness. Generally speaking, we don’t like to be told what to do and we can be a pain in the neck when someone tries.
It’s actually not all that unique of a characteristic. Many a 20th-century revolutionary movement was based on the premise that it’s better to be poorly governed by one’s own people than wisely governed by a foreign power. This spirit also plays an obvious role in many of the world’s modern political hotspots.
Humans like to frame their conflicts as being deeply rooted in important matters of ideology and religion. But the true explanation often has more to do with the identity of would-be leaders and whether they happen to look and sound like the populace in question.
Which brings us to the present moment in 21st-century America and the Trump-inspired “re-open” movement. If one ever needed evidence that Americans will rabblerouse and resist being told what to do — even when to do so runs utterly contrary to common sense and indisputable requirements of science and math, and places themselves, their loved ones and neighbors at great risk — this is it.
In some ways, one has to marvel at such obstinancy. It’s like the fools who put themselves and public safety workers in harm’s way by holding “hurricane parties” on the decks of beach houses lying in the path of destruction.
If it were possible to require the re-open crowd — when they contract the coronavirus by plunging prematurely back in to normal life — to pledge to fend for themselves and not to burden our already-inundated health care system, it would be tempting to say, “Have at it – talk to you (if you’re still alive) on the other side.”
As we already know, though, it doesn’t work that way. The undeniable facts are that a) the foolhardiness of the re-openers will put all of us at much greater risk, and b) our weary frontline heroes will do their best to dispense extraordinary care when this diabolical illness that the protesters dismiss as comparable to the flu sends them high-tailing it to the emergency room.
As is so often the case in the Trump era, however, if there’s a chief outrage in this madness, it’s not the nonsense being voiced by a ragtag crew of delusional protesters spurred on by the right-wing propaganda machine. Rather, it’s the shocking cynicism and hypocrisy of the eggers on — the supposedly responsible conservative think tanks and political leaders who, for purposes of preserving or extending their political power, are willing to sacrifice human health and lives.
Think that’s a harsh exaggeration? Then ponder a moment what the prominent voices on the right are actually doing in their lives, even as they bray about public health guidelines and hurl epithets at responsible leaders like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Gov. Roy Cooper. Seen any of them out happily plunging into crowds lately?
If ever there was a poster child (other than the prevaricator-in-chief, himself) for this sinister brand of hypocrisy in action it had to be the GOP Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly telling the people of his state that it was perfectly safe to vote in the April 7 state primary while — it had to be seen to be believed — wearing a mask, gloves and other protective gear. A close runner-up: the bozo at a Michigan “re-open” protest waving a Confederate flag while wearing a protective mask.
Here in North Carolina, some conservatives are playing the same two-faced game. Even as they fire broadsides at Cooper, Republican lawmakers recently announced plans to convene next week’s legislative session (a session in which their own personal health and well-being could be in some jeopardy) in an almost completely locked-down Legislative Building.
Come on folks, where’s your commitment to re-opening society? If y’all are so convinced this whole virus thing has been overblown, what better way to demonstrate it than by opening up the People’s House?
Maybe you can consult Congressman and former state Senator Dan Bishop – who claims he’s going to attend today’s Raleigh re-open protest – or North Carolina conservative mega-funder and Cooper critic Bob Luddy on the specifics.
Happily, the overwhelming majority of Americans dismiss the re-open movement for the dangerous foolishness it is and are concerned that safety restrictions will, if anything, be lifted too swiftly.
Unfortunately, as they have in so many other areas of the public debate (taxes, healthcare, immigration, education), plutocrats like the Trumps, Kochs, Murdochs and Popes are well-practiced in spending big dollars from within the safe confines of their gated enclaves to manipulate people into acting against their own best interests.
If there’s any justice in the world, American cussedness will soon be turned in the direction of these dangerous conspirators.