Life in the midst of COVID-19 has been trying. I have been denied any sense of normalcy. I have not been able to attend concerts and the socially-distanced sporting events that I have been to lacked the atmosphere of 40,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs. Professionally, my life has gone on but it has been far from “normal.”
Zoom isn’t exactly an ideal mode of communication, but it was a unique experience and I find myself thankful that I was able to continue teaching sociology. When my college did return to in-person classes in August, teaching with a mask on sucked, but at least I was in the classroom again.
I want to be clear that, like so many Americans, I hate the pandemic and the time we’re living in. I am frustrated and, like so many, I want to find someone to blame. Yet, I also recognize that we face an unprecedented public health crisis and it isn’t all about my inconvenience and discomfort.
This idea seems to be lost on many of the tourists and visitors whom I squire around Nashville in the back seat of my Lyft car. I understand many of them – and indeed visitors to other tourist destinations – hate the restrictions, we all do. And I get it that business owners need to turn a profit to stay open, but should that profit come at the price of public health?
I also realize that many people want someone to blame for restrictions are hampering leisure and profits. What I do not get, however, are the tourists and business owners who attack Democratic mayors like Nashville’s John Cooper.
Mayor Cooper has been maligned and virulently attacked in local media in Nashville as well as social media for his strict mask policies and his refusal to go the way of Florida and re-open everything without restrictions. The local Fox affiliate (go figure) ran a report alleging that Mayor Cooper had lied about COVID numbers in order to keep businesses closed. The story was debunked less than an hour after it aired.
But as a Lyft driver I get whiny business owners in the backseat of my car on a regular basis complaining that “Mayor Cooper is trying to put us all out of business” and selfish tourists crying “I shouldn’t have to wear a mask since it doesn’t keep me from getting Corona.” They believe this shit. I politely nod along with their nonsense because I need their 5 star rating and tip. But on the inside, I’m beating my head against the steering wheel trying to knock the stupid out of my mind.
What drives me off the rails is that this level of stupidity and selfishness isn’t just a Nashville problem. It is a national problem. All across the country, Democrats are trying to make public health decisions based on science while Republicans are trying to make public health decisions based on their desire to maintain capitalism. The end result is poor decisions made by Republican politicians, and conservatives are simply spreading the virus and undoing whatever mitigating steps progressive governments are taking.
Even though Republicans and conservatives are screwing everything up – and they know it – they’re finding a way to toss the blame back on people like Mayor Cooper and other Democratic leaders.
A full national shutdown would likely lead to a complete and utter economic collapse. This is not something that many Americans, or the United States as a country, could survive. But how can we avoid such a collapse when the business community and our citizenry see those people taking steps to save our economy and lives as evil tyrants?
Mayor Cooper has not been perfect in office, nor have Democrats across all levels of government have handled COVID-19 perfectly. But that they’re at least trying to do what is right and to take it seriously. When we demonize them rather accepting the fact that our greed and selfishness are the real reason why our lives are still restricted. we put our future in grave peril.
If there is a God I pray that they grant us wisdom and save us from ourselves.