The people who have committed their careers and lives to this pandemic and the policies surrounding it might soon need to find a new raison d’etre. Then the clean up begins – how did this happen, who did it, how to make sure it never happens again – and does not end perhaps for decades.Of necessity, the necessary evidence for a proper reckoning is long in the gathering and interpreting.
It’s been fascinating to see the early drafts on the reasons why. There will be some perfunctory efforts to credit lockdowns, masks, human separation, and closures for somehow making the virus go away. The trouble is that there is no evidence of this. There is evidence for many other explanations having to do with herd immunity and “seasonality” (another way of saying the pathogen comes and then goes) and possibly more precision in testing.
The reckoning will be taking place for months if not years. In the end people will be left wondering why we took such extreme measures that wrecked so many lives when the endemic equilibrium comes in time regardless of all these measures. We tried a crazy experiment in social and economic control and we are left with scant evidence that it made much difference on the virus but vast evidence that they demoralized and ruined life for billions of people.And yet, the mystery might be "why did so many people go along for so long?"
What about the opening? There will continue to be those who will cower in fear, still dealing with the deep psychological trauma that comes from watching TV journalists scream panic for the better part of a year. But there will be an emerging majority that will be more than willing to go back to real life.
And so on goes the opening, slowly at first, then quickly, then all at once. The decisive turn is when the public returns to thinking rationally, refuses to be locked up anymore, and decides to trust themselves and the medical profession rather than the powerful elites who only pretend to manage disease. The trauma lasts, of course, but the healing also begins.I'd still like to buy the "under" on "United States mostly open at Easter," executive orders or not.
Last April, in a more naive time, I truly did imagine that these lockdowns and restrictions could not last. I had underestimated both the public panic and the government’s willingness to double- and triple-down on unworkable policies.
I also overestimated what I had previously imagined to be a widespread commitment to liberty and property that would have inspired some public revolt early on. So here we are a full year later, with the reports of lockdown carnage pouring in by the day and hour. It’s a gigantic mess, to be sure, but the end does seem to be in view, and thank goodness for that. Let the blowback begin.