What could possibly go wrong? President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign pollster’s firm, Impact Research, has thoughts about the pandemic (pdf here; boldface mine, italics original):
After two years that necessitated lockdowns, travel bans, school closures, mask mandates, and nearly a million deaths, nearly every American finally has the tools to protect themselves from this virus. It’s time for Democrats to take credit for ending the COVID crisis phase of the COVID war, point to important victories like vaccine distribution and providing economic stability to Americans, and fully enter the rebuilding phase that comes after any war.
Below we lay out some strategic thoughts for Democrats positioning themselves on COVID-19 after nearly two years of the pandemic:
- Declare the crisis phase of COVID over and push for feeling and acting
more normal. Thanks to Democrats, we are nowhere near where we were two years, or even one year ago…
- Recognize that people are “worn out” and feeling real harm from the yearslong restrictions and take their side…
- Acknowledge COVID still exists and likely will for a long time. We are not advising that Democrats talk like the Republicans that have largely ignored the pandemic, even pre-vaccine. Declaring a return to the “new normalcy” does not mean ignoring that people will continue to get it, that we shouldn’t be responsible, or that we should turn our backs on the medical community that is treating those sick and developing the therapeutics that will save lives. Instead, it means recognizing that the threat of COVID is no longer what it was even a year ago and therefore should not be treated as such – shutdowns, masks, and lockdowns were meant to save lives when there was not yet a vaccine that could do that. Voters know we now have the tools in the toolkit to be responsible in combatting and living with COVID – vaccines and boosters to minimize illness, and masks and social distancing around vulnerable groups.
- Don’t set “COVID zero” as the victory condition. Americans also don’t think victory is COVID Zero. They think the virus is here to stay, and 83% say the pandemic will be over when it’s a mild illness like the flu rather than COVID being completely gone, and 55% prefer that COVID should be treated as an endemic disease. And that’s what most Americans are dealing with—a disease with fatality rates like the flu—because most of us took the personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our families by getting vaccinated.
- Stop talking about restrictions and the unknown future ahead. If we focus on how bad things still are and how much worse they could get, we set Democrats up as failures unable to navigate us through this. When 99% of Americans can get vaccinated, we cause more harm than we prevent with voters by going into our third year talking about restrictions. And, if Democrats continue to hold a posture that prioritizes COVID precautions over learning how to live in a world where COVID exists, but does not dominate, they risk paying dearly for it in November.
This is utterly surreal–and given Democratic pollsters’ track records to date, they are absolutely the wrong people to listen to (read the whole document to get the full flavor). No one has said masks forever (I certainly haven’t), but we need masks until the prevalence is low. The virus doesn’t care about your feelings. We’re also talking about wearing a mask, not having to manage a difficult chronic condition.
And, of course, the official Biden administration policy of not mentioning long COVID rears its vile head. Influenza doesn’t result in 1-2% of vaccinated people having ‘long influenza.’ That won’t play well politically,though I suppose they’re hoping nothing too bad happens before the midterms.
Then there’s this sentence:
…if Democrats continue to hold a posture that prioritizes COVID precautions over learning how to live in a world where COVID exists
Masking is part of learning how to live in a world where COVID exists.
While I don’t think we’re going to see a massive spike in the next couple of months as masking completely disappears, I can’t see how thousands of dead people per month and some multiple of that with long COVID is good politics. And if COVID starts rising in September like it has every year, that could be really bad for the midterms.
ALSO LOTS OF SICK OR DEAD PEOPLE, BUT WHO CARES AMIRITE?
It doesn’t have to be like this.