By Jeffrey A. Tucker
We grew up in a country in which we generally assumed there to be some feedback mechanism between public opinion and the behavior of governments. It was never perfect but we all assumed it was there. If the policies were bad, the reason was traced to public ignorance. If policies improved, it’s because public opinion shifted in a good direction.
Every politician in my lifetime has claimed to know what the American people want, and promised to deliver their wishes. That’s how it is supposed to work in democratic societies. Governments are responsive to the priorities of the public mind within the framework of settled law. The purpose of the political parties is to argue about what vision most respects the people.
In the past several years, this has completely broken down. No one voted for half the workers in the United States suddenly to be declared nonessential. No one supported forcibly closing businesses, churches, and schools. The words “social distancing”—forced human separation—were on no one’s lips five years ago. Practically overnight, a junta took charge of our lives in ways that no public opinion poll in 2019 would have suggested was possible.
Lockdowns were a coup d’état against democracy. It empowered a scientific elite—very likely backed by the intelligence community—to run roughshod over the whole idea of freedom and popular government. To make it stick, elite planners enlisted the media and large tech companies to echo its unscientific justifications, while suppressing information that contradicted the designs of the coup plotters.
I’m still reeling from this period of history. It seemed like the darkness fell and stayed that way for a very long time or perhaps never really lifted. This shattered my entire mindset concerning the path of progress. As a child of the Cold War, I imbibed the “End of History” perspective that said we were only going to get freer and more prosperous in my lifetime and probably forever. The lockdowns were the disruption: a brutal policy of forced impoverishment and despotism.
And here we sit under an ongoing lockdown threat for the new variant, for disinformation, for climate change, or whatever else someone dreams up as a good excuse. All the powers they used for lockdown are still with us. Most of the people who caused this calamity still have their jobs. Few if any have admitted error.
We’ve wondered for years now when public opinion would self-correct out of the mindset of fear, recognize that the people have been conned, and stand up and say: no more. I’ve generally been pessimistic that we are there yet. There are no polls on the matter that I can find (why not?), but my estimate has been that only about 20 percent of the public is determined to resist a second lockdown.
To be sure, my own social media feeds are packed with anti-lockdown attitudes and posts. But I’ve learned over time not to trust that my circle of opinion represents anything like public opinion. Indeed, most people are not posting their thoughts on the topic on social media at all. That’s a luxury for people with time and access. So I, by no means, believe that my views and those of my friends are representative of anything other than what the algorithms dictate.
There are several data points out over the past week that suggest to me that the resistance might be bigger than I’ve assumed. Several institutions imposed mask mandates last week only to repeal them when faced with a backlash. That’s a good sign. Universities that still have vaccine mandates are under serious pressure to get rid of them.
We’ll know more about public credulity next month when we get the first reports on COVID vaccine uptake in the general population. If it is 10 percent or less, that will be extremely telling. This is a vaccine that has never been properly tested, which we know from experience thus far achieves nearly nothing in terms of public health, and is also extremely dangerous. We know too that authorities knew this early on and covered it up.
Based on the non-stop ads being run by Moderna and Pfizer, it seems they are working extremely hard to get people to take a shot that no one really needs. They are still operating under the Emergency Use Authorization that exempts them from liability for damages and permits them to promote their products without the usual stipulations in the law. And what number vaccine is this? Are we at six, seven, eight, or more? I’ve lost count.
In any case, I know of no one who plans to get the jab again.
Another fascinating data point is the sudden shock that CNN has given a tough interview to Dr. Anthony Fauci. He has been extremely careful for years about only granting interviews with trusted sources. He hardly ever makes a mistake. He figured that he would be in safe territory.
Instead, reporter Michael Smerconish confronted Dr. Fauci with actual science. He asked about the definitive study on masks which shows that they aren’t effective in changing the course of the pandemic. Fauci was a bit stunned but responded that masks are great for individuals but far less so for society at large.
That makes no sense but he said it anyway.
If I know Dr, Fauci, he must have gone completely crazy following that interview. It was certainly not supposed to happen. In essence, he outed himself as the charlatan he is, for all the world to see. Previously, Mr. Smerconish had never confronted Dr. Fauci with that sort of challenge. It came as a shock all around, especially given that the whole meltdown occurred on CNN.
In a later interview, Mr. Smerconish said that he asked the hard questions because his messaging and emails were overwhelming against masks. He very naively figured he would ask because he was confident that Dr. Fauci would refute all the attacks. That didn’t happen. Dr. Fauci fell apart.
In a later podcast by the reporter, he said he’s certain where the passion is among the public. The resistance is extremely informed and very powerful. It might only be 25 percent, he clarifies, but it’s a decisive group because it is more engaged, knowledgeable, and willing to act. Nor is it all “conservatives” who watch Fox News. It’s regular people tired of being bludgeoned by fake science.
And in saying this, he is making the essential points. In the end, the relationship between public opinion and government policy isn’t really a numbers game. It isn’t even about getting the majority opinion on your side, much less a supermajority. It is about inspiring a minority that truly cares, knows the case and the facts, and is willing to stand up for what’s right.
Having considered this point, I’ve grown a bit more optimistic that the next lockdowns can be reversed or even stopped, not because the partisans of freedom are the overwhelming majority but because a passionate minority cares enough to stand up for what is right and true. I do wish this had happened in 2020 and 2021 but it didn’t.
Here we are today. We’ve lived and we’ve learned. Now, we are in a position to insist in every way possible that this will never happen again.