These are difficult days, which seems to be an understatement to say at the moment. What’s worse is that we know they are going to get more difficult, as Covid-19 spreads further and it’s effects on health, daily life and the economy grow We know now that it’s not a matter of if, but when and we need to do our best to handle this and get through it. It’s a time for sober reflection, clear thought and cooperation from across the political spectrum.
Yesterday in Question Period it seems that the House finally all got that, or at least for the first half of it, but it was an improvement none the less. There is talk in the media that the House of Commons may suspend for longer than the break week ahead next week and even the Senate is sitting today to be ready in case they are called upon to pass supply bills to ensure the government doesn’t run short of money in this important time. For the most part here, partisanship is finally being put aside as we face a crisis that knows no borders and doesn’t discriminate against any political party.
But as I’ve written here earlier this week, I was not as worried about here at home. Despite lack of evidence before yesterday, I believed that we would come around and would take care of what needed to be done. Thankfully that has come to pass. No my biggest concern was our neighbour to the South, their current dysfunction at the top of leadership and the effect that it is happening on their response. The fact remains that even if we get our response right, it could all be undone if Covid-19 runs rampant next door. That’s part of the reason why I couldn’t help but stand up and take notice of this piece I saw shared this morning from the New York Times, which puts into stark relief the real world effects of the partisan divide and the real effects in a crisis when it overtakes everything else:
We talk a lot in vague terms about how bad toxic partisanship can be and the effects of political polarization have been on society. But folks, this piece of polling information from this piece is the kind of thing we’ve never really seen before, and frankly, it’s downright scary. Here is what the Quinnipiac University poll quoted in this piece told us:
- More than half of voters, 54 percent, are either very or somewhat concerned that they or someone they know will be infected with the coronavirus, compared to 45 percent who say they are not so concerned or not concerned at all.
- Democrats are the most concerned, saying they are very or somewhat concerned 68 – 31 percent
- Independents are saying they are very or somewhat concerned 57 – 43 percent.
- Republicans are the least concerned, saying they are not so concerned or not concerned at all 63 – 35 percent.
- Democratic voters were about twice as likely as Republicans to worry that they or someone they knew could catch the virus, the poll found.
- 63% of Republican voters said they were relatively unconcerned.
Now like with any polling you could look at a lot of different factors to explain those results but while this remains historically abnormal, it is consistent with what we’ve seen in American polling on just about everything. But this is abnormal because typically things like issues of health crises would not succumb to those same pressures. Normally whatever your political views on this or that, those wouldn’t bleed into basic health issues of life and death.
Yet when we see an American President blaming the media, the other party and others of this being a hoax, a political hit job, all built up and overblown to take him down in the Fall election. We see and hear those craze pronouncements repeated ad nauseum by nationally syndicated conservative radio shows and on TV networks like Fox News, giving them a wider reach and credence that they don’t merit. Think about this; hours before Trump went on National TV to give his speech to speak to Coronavirus, his media confidant Sean Hannity was on his radio should musing aloud that coronavirus might be a “fraud”. Think about how dangerous it is to have someone with his reach saying that, then compound that by the years of his dedicated audience accepting that he is peddling the truth, that the “mainstream media” are corrupt liars and that Trump knows all.
Folks, we can sit on our partisan high horses and “tut-tut” those on the other side about their willingness to drink the swamp water that they are being fed by those politicians and the media outlets that support them. We could do that and feel morally superior about it all, laughing as we watch the stupidity of it all. But doing that for years has only seemed to re-enforce those feelings, convincing them that they are right to drink that swamp water and act like it’s the finest champagne.
While we are in a better spot here at home, it’s scary to see a situation now to our South where partisan insanity has gone so far to the point that you’re more likely to believe a global pandemic is nothing to worry about because it’s the guy from your party leading, regards of what the experts say. Now is not the time to parse all of this, pick it apart and analyze it to death, but I couldn’t help but note that piece, those numbers and what it means about what we’re seeing next door. Blind and total partisanship can be a hell of a drug and as it can be with any drug, and as we’re seeing south of us right now, it can lead us to make really bad decisions. I hope and pray that sooner than later they snap out of this haze but the longer this goes on, the less hopeful of that awakening I become.