Like with other hot-button issues, the Democratic Party has been held captive by an affluent progressive slice of its base—who have been more insulated from the disruptive effects of COVID-related regulations—at the expense of the rest of the country. Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle spoke for this constituency when she told The Washington Post: “We’re never going to go back to normal. Personally, I don’t think I will ever get on a plane without wearing a mask.” Talk about a political downer.
This adherence to COVID Zeroism has significant political consequences. As The New York Times’s David Leonhardt put it: “Many Democrats, both voters and politicians, have been almost blasé about the costs of Covid precautions—the isolation, unhappiness, health damage, lost learning, inflation, public-transit disruptions and more. … Society would cease to function if it tried to minimize every political risk.”
This is a moment that screams for a course correction in the Biden administration’s approach to the pandemic. The president should be channeling FDR’s call for grit paired with hopeful optimism. Continue championing vaccinations and boosters. Call on large companies to start reopening to help get the small-business economy back on track. Set benchmarks for rolling back the mask mandates in school jurisdictions where spread is fairly low. For those vaccinated and boosted, there really isn’t anything to fear but fear itself.