What Happens When a Broken Country Tries to Fight a Pandemic

One of the most memorable scenes in the “Hunger Games” books and movies is when the poor kids from the outer districts take the train into the glimmering capital.

There they see affluence and decadence completely foreign to them in their poor, hyper-regulated homelands. It’s all fiction, of course, but it’s not too far from what we are actually seeing in coronavirus-ridden America 2020.

In case after case, we are seeing public officials completely flout the rules they are imposing on their own constituents. It’s never been clearer that we are devolving into some sort of tiered society with different laws and regulations depending on your station in life.

Politicians and top business executives can fly around on private planes, book private dinners, and continue with their lives, while regular Americans see stricter and stricter lockdowns and mandates.

French Laundry was for years heralded as America’s finest restaurant. A fixed-price dinner starts at $300 per person and can easily hit $1,000 per person with wine pairings.

After locking down his state with all sorts of onerous coronavirus restrictions, including asking Californians to scale back family Thanksgiving celebrations, California Gov. Gavin Newsom went to a private party at French Laundry with a bunch of his lobbyist friends. They wore no masks, sitting in close quarters.

To his credit, he immediately apologized after he was caught, calling it a “bad mistake.” He also insisted that the dinner was outdoors and therefore less of a COVID-19 violation.

Later, pictures and witness accounts made it clear that his dinner was, in fact, indoors and that the huge sliding door that Newsom was apparently basing his “outdoor” claim on was closed for much of the meal while his party dined inside behind it.

Confronted with these new contradictions, Newsom’s spokesman was suddenly a lot less transparent. He’s still refusing to answer.

Newsom isn’t the only leader rubbing hypocrisy in constituents’ noses. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was famously caught in a hair salon in her hometown of San Francisco at a time when salons were ordered closed by the city.

This is not a partisan matter, either. About 20 different lawmakers from numerous states, many of them Republicans, just flew down to a luxury resort in Hawaii, even though many of the states in question prohibit such travel for their citizens.

The mayor of Washington, D.C., traveled to Delaware in violation of her own quarantine in order to attend Joe Biden’s celebration. When called out, she said her party travel was allowed because it qualifies as “essential travel.”

The problem is not that the behavior of these politicians is so outrageous in the first place. A ton of it is totally normal stuff. Pelosi probably needed a haircut. But so do the rest of us.

The reality is it’s hard to stay completely locked down for too long. People can do it for a few weeks, but when that stretches into months or even years, it’s just not going to work.

The politicians’ own hypocritical behavior proves it’s too long to ask of America. Yet their policies don’t reflect that simple reality.

 

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