Not letting a crisis go to waste: Some seize on Covid-19 to force change on America

This may sound far-fetched, yet it’s literally what House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) said recently. His exact words, according to the conference call among top Democrats last Thursday, were: “This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

The infamous proposal by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), unveiled Monday, showed what that vision looks like: a wish list of political priorities, hardly any having anything remotely to do with public health or economic survival. It did, however, have such key planks as insisting on diversity of corporate boards, nationwide ballot harvesting California-style, and bailing out the postal service and government unions. 

Meanwhile, Pelosi’s fellow Democrats in the Senate sank – not once, but twice – the Republican proposal to send cash to Americans in order to help them survive the weeks-long economic shutdown. Friendly media covered for them, as usual, but the outrage on social networks seems to have prevailed; the latest reports suggest Pelosi is dropping her proposal and the Senate Democrats may actually agree to the $2 trillion plan. 

Perhaps some of that could be due to President Donald Trump floating the idea that America should reopen for business soon – he mentioned April 12, Easter in the Gregorian calendar – as a way to prevent long-term economic collapse. 

The idea was met with shrieks of protest from Democrat governors eager to keep their states on lockdown for as long as possible, while demanding the federal government do all the heavy lifting to fight the contagion.

The mere mention of reopening America has horrified liberals and neoconservatives alike, with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney – daughter of the grey eminence behind the 2003 Iraq War – siding with Pelosi in declaring that “thousands of Americans” will die if the economy reopens.

At the same time, a collection of liberal and neocon hawks in the House pushed for more EU sanctions against Russia, because “our democracy” or something. It seems they were alarmed by the public displays of Italian gratitude to Russia over Moscow’s help with the coronavirus, after the EU effectively failed them. So much for the professed concern for lives over politics, then.

Oddities don’t end there, though. For example, in many of the locked-down Democrat states, marijuana shops have remained open but gun stores have been forced to close. The Los Angeles County sheriff sought to explain his gun embargo on Tuesday by saying first-time gun buyers need to be protected from themselves.

Perhaps it hasn’t crossed the good sheriff’s mind that Californians might just want to take personal responsibility for their security, now that the authorities there – and in other places – have essentially given up on enforcing a whole host of laws during the pandemic, ostensibly to keep the coronavirus out of jails.

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With hardened criminals being given a pass but law-abiding normal citizens ordered locked inside their homes and denied the right to protect themselves, what could possibly go wrong? Fear of the virus has kept riots and looting down – for now. If the shutdown goes on for weeks unending, and stores run out of food as they have out of toilet paper – for some unknown reason – all bets might be off.

One of the greatest ironies of the coronavirus crisis is that the very people who spent the past four years shrieking about Trump being a dictator are now claiming he’s not dictatorial enough, demanding that he nationalize production of masks and medical equipment, send the army to build hospitals and enforce quarantines, etc. 

Abraham Lincoln, revered as one of the greatest American presidents, used his wartime powers to arrest lawmakers, suspend habeas corpus and shut down newspapers. Trump does not appear to represent such a threat to American constitutional freedoms as of yet.

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The president is 73 and a lifelong germophobe, yet he seems oddly calm about the virus. Pelosi, Clyburn and Democrat presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden are all older, and far more at risk of death from Covid-19, yet they seem far more focused on politicking than public health. That suggests the coronavirus crisis has mutated, from a genuine panic about public health to another moral panic where the only question is who will have power. 

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