Americans who identify as “very liberal” are refusing to let go of public health restrictions or their vigilant practice of various pandemic precautions like masking and isolation, even as the threat of the virus recedes and the same science they claimed to follow now indicates life can return to normal.
In polling data, Democrats consistently have been more willing than Republicans to shut down the economy, more supportive of mask mandates and more hesitant to take risks in their day-to-day lives that could expose them to COVID-19. Early on, that split was framed around the scientific consensus regarding the pandemic. Democratic officials stressed of “following the science,” falling back on the work of researchers and doctors to defend every pandemic restriction and personal limit put in place. Liberals took pride in being part of the “party of science” in the same way they do on issues like climate change.
Another motivating factor was former President Donald Trump. There was a deep frustration with how Trump handled the pandemic in many liberal circles, Dr. Monica Gandhi of UC San Francisco told The Atlantic: “If he said, ‘Keep schools open,’ then, well, we’re going to do everything in our power to keep schools closed… We went the other way, in an extreme way, against Trump’s politicization.”
A while ago, I started noticing something strange: Very progressive people, who love to talk about “believing in science,” were adopting COVID restrictions *over and above* CDC guidelines. I thought, is there a story here? And, well, wow, there is. https://t.co/tasiSw73Dy
— Emma Green (@emmaogreen) May 4, 2021
In that same Atlantic piece, Emma Green highlighted polling data from University of North Carolina political scientist Marc Hetherington. He found that about one-third of Americans who describe themselves as “very liberal” were still “very concerned” about getting seriously ill from COVID-19 even after vaccinations had begun, compared to only about one-quarter of liberals and moderates.
Hetherington also found that 43% of “very liberal” Americans believed that getting COVID-19 would have a “very bad” impact on their life, compared to only about one-third of liberals and moderates. It’s unclear what those very liberal Americans would classify as a “very bad” outcome, but it’s worth noting that the overwhelming majority of people who contract COVID-19 survive the bout and don’t become seriously ill.
Despite that early motivation to “follow the science” and reject the guidance of Trump, the most liberal communities in America have not loosened restrictions at the same rate the rest of the country has, even with both of those motivations absent.
Trump is no longer in office, and he’s had his platform substantially reduced by his bans from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. He’s been replaced by President Joe Biden, who’s been excessively cautious in dealing with the virus personally, so perhaps these liberals have simply replaced their anti-Trump motivation with a pro-Biden ethos. (RELATED: Bidens Recklessly Neglect ‘Patriotic Responsibility’ By Going Maskless With Elderly Jimmy Carter)
The science aspect is more interesting, because now much of the science says to get back to normal. Research has shown that people who are vaccinated are nearly guaranteed not to get seriously ill or die from COVID-19, they’re far less likely to catch the virus and they’re exceptionally unlikely to spread it to others.
With 110 million Americans fully vaccinated, that’s more than 40% of American adults who, according to the science, can more or less return to living a pre-pandemic normal life.
Science has also shown that people are far less likely to transmit the disease outside, and children are generally far less likely to catch and transmit COVID-19, and their cases of the virus are usually less serious.
Still, some liberals are now rejecting this science and refusing to get back to normal.
Yes, I’m still wearing a mask.
Yes, I’m fully vaccinated.
Do I love wearing a mask?
Do I love my neighbor?
Love is the reason.
— M.DivA is a WHOLE Pfizer Princess (@sista_theology) May 5, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed guidelines for vaccinated Americans, including stating that people who are inoculated no longer need to wear a mask when outside. And yet people like MSNBC’s Joy Reid are continuing to go for jogs while wearing two masks, even after being fully vaccinated. (RELATED: ‘Unfair And Cruel’: One Of Fauci’s Own Scientists Reportedly Slams CDC’s Incoming Summer Camp Rules)
This refusal to take advantage of the benefits of vaccines, which has been exhibited even by people like White House senior medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, may be contributing to vaccine hesitancy.
“Those who are vaccinated on the left seem to think overcaution now is the way to go, which is making people on the right question the effectiveness of the vaccines,” Gandhi said.
Some influencers within the liberal media sphere have attempted to pierce the bubble, to no avail. Writers for Slate, The New Republic and The Atlantic have all published pieces expressing some faith in the new science, but they were shot down instantly by Twitter moms and neurotic affluent socialites.
There are a few potential explanations at play. At the start of the pandemic, liberal-leaning areas of the country like New York, New Jersey and New England were hit the hardest, the Atlantic noted. It’s possible that people from those areas, and others like them, are still wary after experiencing the very real havoc that the virus wrought on their communities last spring.
A more cynical explanation is that the coronavirus pandemic has brought about a real window for progressive change. Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus bill was passed under the guise of pandemic recovery, but it contained a litany of other progressive wish list items as well.
“Among progressive political leaders around here, there’s a lot of talk around: We’re not going back to normal, because normal wasn’t good enough,” progressive PR consultant Alex Goldstein told The Atlantic.
Green shares the story of parents in Somerville, Massachusetts, who are fighting to get their kids back in school.
“I spent four years fighting Trump because he was so anti-science,” said engineering professor and mom Daniele Lantagne. “I spent the last year fighting people who I normally would agree with … desperately trying to inject science into school reopening, and completely failed.”
The very same hyper-liberals who stress the importance of education for all and following the science on climate change suddenly aren’t as interested in either. (RELATED: The COVID Crazies Have Been Demanding We Do More Than What’s Actually Required)
“Everyone wants to be actively anti-racist. Everyone believes Black lives matter. Everyone wants the Green New Deal,” Elizabeth Pinsky, a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, told The Atlantic. “No one wants to talk about … how to actually get kindergartners onto the carpet of their teachers.”