Commentary: COVID aftermath shows the pandemic was never about science

Science and optimism clearly don’t matter in locales where President Joe Biden received about 75% of vote.

An American Legion hall in Peabody, Kansas. (AJ Kaufman)

Cognizant observers have watched politics overtake science the past 16 months.

Whether it’s Scott Gottlieb versus Anthony Fauci or Robert Redfield versus Rochelle Walensky, it’s clear and unfortunate.

I just returned from nine days, eight states, and 3,150 miles of road travel, mainly off the interstate.

While it’s no surprise that western Kansas and the Texas Panhandle differ from Chicago and Minneapolis, observational travel, as usual, confirms a widening cultural divide in the aftermath of coronavirus.

I started writing this column at a Minor League Baseball game in Amarillo: Red America, where steak, bacon and sweet tea are the norm. Former President Donald Trump won 70% of votes cast here — 80-90% in smaller nearby counties — and his name remains emblazoned on barns and flags. Former White House doctor Ronny Jackson now represents this Republican +33 district.

No masks were seen on people inside or outside in Amarillo or surrounding locales. But in trendy Santa Fe, just a few hours and 250 miles earlier last week, it was virtue signaling to the extreme.

Santa Fe, New Mexico. (AJ Kaufman)

Despite 90-degree temperatures and high vaccination rates, tourists and store owners donned masks, inside and out, as Subarus with Bernie Sanders stickers rolled by. Science and optimism clearly don’t matter in locales where President Joe Biden received about 75% of vote.

This is undoubtedly the case in large left-leaning locales from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

New York Times writer David Leonhardt is no conservative, but like the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin, explained facts to his insular readers that we all knew last year.

Maybe the Times’ imprimatur will carry more weight than Fox News with the elite left, but nonetheless, Leonhardt began a recent newsletter by reminding progressives that once vaccinated, “COVID no longer needs to dominate your life.”

He then explained, “You are unlikely to contract any form of the virus and are virtually guaranteed not to suffer serious symptoms. You can socialize with friends, indoors or outdoors. You don’t need to wear a mask to protect yourself or others. For you, Covid has come to resemble a mild flu that you are unlikely to get.”

Walensky even confirmed this on Tuesday.

Leonhardt reports polls showing Democrat voters have “an inflated sense of COVID’s risks to children.”

“The biggest risk to your child’s health today almost certainly is not Covid,” he added. “It’s more likely to be an activity that you have long decided is acceptable — like swimming, riding a bicycle or traveling in a car.”

Many of us said this a year ago and people laughed. We’ve been proven correct by following data and common sense in lieu of politics.

Nonetheless, it’s welcome news from the media, especially when Biden’s chief of staff plays divisive partisan games and disgraced coronavirus advisers claim trillions in lost income and tens of millions of Americans sacrificing their livelihoods to a virus that only seriously affects seniors isn’t sufficient.

I spoke to a roofer on Father’s Day in Wichita, who said he worked “as much as I could” during the pandemic, no matter the unpredictable heartland weather.

“It went good for a while, since folks did home renovations, but then they shut me down for part of the winter and spring,” he said. “I’m a single dad, and at the same time, my daughters’ school started and stopped a few times. It was confusing. I guess I could have stayed home and collected Biden bucks.”

Over-educated progressives seem to prefer living under perpetual masks rather than accepting data indicating the pandemic is over. Normal life apparently is too exhausting. The ultimate privilege is to have working-class peons deliver your goods, while you sit inside with a steady paycheck, polarized by neuroses and angrily tweeting.