One change: right-wing media amplifying liberal criticism of “lockdowns” as if Biden’s upcoming inauguration caused them
Many U.S. conservatives believe that the election of Joe Biden has caused a dramatic narrative shift among previous “lockdown” proponents in favor of loosening restrictions:
Even a sometimes-narrative-challenging conservative jumped on this bandwagon:
I understand why these memes spread. Conservatives suspect that liberals may have been relatively indifferent to the costs of lockdown because these consequences could be blamed (sometimes unfairly) on Trump. For the least charitable conservatives, it goes a step further: maybe Democrats wanted economic damage to hurt Trump’s chances, a theory that the outgoing president often expressed.
One problem: it’s not quite right.
I find the attack against Nate Silver most puzzling as he has repeatedly questioned unbounded lockdowns and challenged marginally-useful closures. It should be no surprise that Silver expresses concern about the potential harm of lockdowns. He has since April!
What about the politicians? Well, as a Chicagoan, I’ve been amused with how many conservatives hold up Mayor Lori Lightfoot as proof of the election theory.
What do I mean? Well, consider this quote:
Aha! Lightfoot’s suddenly concerned about the post-Trump economy!
Except: Lightfoot said this on October 28. Chicagoans remember this fight, even lockdown skeptics, but if you’re a conservative from out of state your probably believe that Lightfoot’s statements last week constituted some sort of stunning paradigm shift. Lightfoot pleads the same case she made three months ago (which she only paused because the situation in Chicago temporarily deteriorated).
So much for the Lightfoot narrative.
Finally, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, I admit that this tweet is at least a tonal departure from his rhetoric last summer:
But it seems to have been a genuine evolution. Conservatives blasted him for purporting to limit Thanksgiving gatherings to ten people, but Cuomo delivered a much more muted message for Christmas, possibly because the predicted Thanksgiving spike didn’t occur.
This is a good thing! We want government officials to respond to data, and it looks like people appropriately mitigated their own risks for Thanksgiving.
The timeline suggests a gradual warming to reopening in general, not a sharp departure to rev up the Biden economy. Even before the election, on October 30, Cuomo announces that even hot zones could reopen schools, surprising NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. The reopening of elementary schools could not be executed until December 7, but stands in contrast to the school situation in many other blue states.
I suppose there’s a theory where the November 3 election (which media called as a Trump loss on November 14) echoed backwards though time to cause Cuomo to open schools, but also into the future, allowing Cuomo to be a hardliner on Thanksgiving but relatively soft on Christmas, until finally revealing his coldly instrumental pro-Biden agenda in January, betraying and making into “fools” all previous lockdown supporters as politicalmath says.
Or maybe people—even obviously self-promotional and error-prone politicians like Cuomo—sincerely change their mind in response to circumstances.
In my view, the narrative shift has been mostly in what the right-wing ecosystem amplifies. Until recently, these ecosystems ignored when public health doctors and Democrats expressed concern about the costs of closures, because it was a better fit with the narrative that these elites don’t care about you. Tradeoffs always existed though, even when our dumb political discourse often obscures them behind vacuous slogans.
A lockdown maximalist like Cuomo could reassess the costs and benefits in lockdown in good faith, just as a lockdown skeptic like Christopher Snowden can conclude that the infectiousness of B.1.1.7 requires the tough medicine of a circuit-breaking lockdown.
Everyone who disagreed with you in the past is not a fool or a villain because some politician changed his mind.