O, Florida. HANDOUT / GETTY IMAGES
There are two battles the GOP can’t stop fighting despite defeat after defeat. One is reopening the economy during a pandemic, and the other is the final destruction of the decade-old Obamacare.
And so we find this weekend the Republican governor Ron DeSantis completely opening Florida while the state is still far from out of the pandemic woods. Florida still averages 3,000 cases and something like 100 COVID-related deaths per day. Reopening did not work at all in July. It’s not going to work in September. But he still did it. And he also “banned local fines against people who refuse to wear masks.”
But what DeSantis refuses to grasp is the obvious fact that the economy of his state closed on its own. Sure, a few bars and diners can operate as if the pandemic is over, but it’s hard to imagine Florida’s tourism bouncing back simply because the governor says: “We’re open for business.” It’s also really amazing to see that if you are white and a leader of the party that white people get to have all for themselves, you are permitted to kill thousands of lives, many of which are white.
As for DeSantis’s bizarre anti-mask position, why would you not impose a rule (wear masks) that could make reopening in some measure work? And I’m speaking from a capitalist perspective.
Back when the US had 160,000 deaths (it now has 206,000), Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, spoke for many capitalists when he recommended that the whole of the US should commit to a real six-week lockdown “to save both lives and the economy.” Now we know that a lockdown, though effective, may not even be needed. The coronavirus code can be cracked with masks and basic social distancing practices alone.
The example of the Japanese economy is right there for all to see. There was no shutdown in Japan because the social habits of the majority of its citizens kept the pandemic in check. As the Atlantic reported at the end of August, “the country currently has approximately 98 percent fewer COVID-19 deaths than the United States.”
Japan reported no outbreaks on Tokyo’s famously crowded subways. The city’s trains are typically well ventilated, and Japanese people have had decades of practice wearing masks. But something else is at work here: Japanese commuters have an informal rule to avoid talking loudly on trains, if at all.
This information is available to anyone with access to the web, but the GOP continues to do the same thing that has never worked and that never fails to produce the same disastrous results: open the economy as if it’s still 2019.
Let’s turn to the other hill that the GOP keeps running up and getting beat down: Obamacare.
On Sunday, the Editorial Board of the intellectual wing of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, posted an op-ed called “The GOP’s ObamaCare Self-Sabotage.” The piece drips with frustration. The nomination of Judge Barrett and the Supreme Court would have been smooth if the GOP had not, in the middle of a pandemic, submitted to the court yet another challenge to the Obamacare.
A week after Election Day, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in another challenge to ObamaCare. The political timing couldn’t be better for Democrats who are using it to claim that Amy Coney Barrett has been nominated to overturn that law.
President Trump is at the Supreme Court trying to “strip away the peace of mind from more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions,” Joe Biden said last Sunday. If Republicans confirm a nominee, he warned on Wednesday “women’s rights as it relates to everything for medical health care, is going to be gone. Nancy Pelosi claimed that the President is rushing a confirmation vote “because Nov. 10 is when the arguments begin on the Affordable Care Act.”
The presence of that challenge to the ACA offered the Dems a way to fight the nominee without directly fighting it. All they have to do is raise the issue of affordable healthcare for millions voters. It also gave the party a way to sidestep what Jordan Peterson calls “cultural Marxism” and to focus on a basic meat-and-potatoes issue. This is what Bernie Sanders is talking about.
And so with indirection, the Democratic party seems to have found some direction.
Indeed, Biden even had a moment of brilliance when he described many of the survivors of the deadly virus as stuck with “preconditions.”
CNN: “Biden made specific reference to some of the lingering tolls of the illness, including scarring of the lungs and heart damage, describing those complications as ‘the next deniable pre-existing condition.'”
There is no way the Dems can beat Barrett’s nomination, and in my opinion they should just ignore it. (The GOP cheated, they’ve already won). Instead, Dems should focus on beating Trump and winning the Senate, but as the pro-business Wall Street paper knows, and what will certainly be indicated in coming polls, is this approach (Barrett = No Cheap Health Care During a Pandemic and High Unemployment) will reach a large number voters who have little to no idea about the Supreme Court lies committed by the GOP in 2016, or why Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death matters, but who are by no means in the dark about hospital bills and the debt collectors and escalating court fees.
In this way, Dems will not orient themselves toward the past but toward a very visible future.