Two years ago, major American cities were segregated by vaccine status. Mask mandates delineated safe and unsafe. Signs told us to be separate from each other. We couldn’t even encounter each other during shopping thanks to one-way grocery aisles. We were not allowed to visit families or even attend funerals. Weddings were out of the question. There were even travel restrictions.
And today, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report sounding the alarm about the pandemic of loneliness.
While social connection had been declining for decades prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the onset of the pandemic, with its lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, was a critical time during which the issue of connection came to the forefront of public consciousness, raising awareness about this critical and ongoing public health concern.
Many of us felt lonely or isolated in a way we had never experienced before. We postponed or canceled meaningful life moments and celebrations like birthdays, graduations, and marriages. Children’s education shifted online—and they missed out on the many benefits of interacting with their friends. Many people lost jobs and homes. We were unable to visit our children, siblings, parents, or grandparents. Many lost loved ones. We experienced feelings of anxiety, stress, fear, sadness, grief, anger, and pain through the loss of these moments, rituals, celebrations, and relationships.
Oh thanks a lot HHS! As if this agency had nothing to do with causing this and they are just innocent bystanders. It’s not as if many people predicted exactly this.
Don’t forget that the CDC and the NIH are actually part of HHS. HHS was the source of all the preposterous and coercive orders for closings, stay-at-home orders, and everything else. So the government agency that caused the crisis is now citing the crisis as evidence that it needs to do more. It meanwhile acts and talks as if this entire fiasco is just something that happened, for whatever reason.
In any case, all of this flies in the face of every liberty Americans previously took for granted. It also created a caste system of the clean and unclean. From the start, we were delineated between essential and nonessential, elective and essential surgeries, the laptop class and the actual workers, and more. It was a mass act of segregation and separation as defined by bureaucracies, the HHS among them.
This is massively contrary to every bit of the ethos of American law and culture. Notions of equality, democracy, and equal opportunity have been a defining mark of the “new world” vs the “old world.” That’s why it is so deeply embedded in our history and culture.
The Founders spoke about it constantly in all their writings. The Declaration of Independence says that “All men are created equal,” which was an astounding claim by any historical measure.
It’s why the US Constitution forbids titles of nobility. Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 reads: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
They had every desire to throw off the strict social and political demarcations of the past. At George Wasington’s first inauguration, the Senate proposed that he wear a robe made of pricey ermine fur. Washington said no and chose instead a woolen suit like everyone else wore at the time.
It’s also why the US fought a bloody war finally to end slavery in America after it was tolerated only under a moral cloud for the century before. It was the ethos and driving ethic of the civil rights movement: “liberty and justice for all,” says our Pledge.
This strong belief in equal freedom for everyone, and privileges for no one, defines this country in ways we do not always know.
Consider, for example, American formalwear for men. To be formal these days usually means for men to wear “black tie,” which means what we call a Tuxedo. It is the standard attire and the most formal we know how to be. It has been this way since 1880 when, at an event at Tuxedo Park, New York, the newly rich wore black tie and a dinner jacket.
What is not known is that the entire outfit is an homage to the working classes. The black tie and dinner jacket in the old-world Commonwealth countries was the garb of footmen and valets, not the aristocracy. For anyone seated at the main table, the proper dress was the tailcoat and white tie.
In other words, the point of the Tuxedo was not to be fancy but just the opposite. It was to say that in this country, we are all aristocrats. We are all workers. We all enjoy class mobility, and we certainly don’t separate out anyone as inherently entitled to dress a certain way. And from that we reward people by merit alone. Even those of inherited money need to prove their worth.
There we have it: the most formal thing in this country has origins in democratic ideals of equality, class mobility, choice, and opportunity.
The same is true of the history of denim jeans, which have spread throughout the world as a symbol of casual freedom. In US history, denim was used to make sturdy work pants, as worn by laborers, miners, and ranchers. Levi Strauss, from which the brand was named, was a German-American businessman. His jeans came to be worn once again as a symbol of solidarity across all classes.
For all the differences we have among ourselves, on the core principle of equal freedom there is near-universal agreement. And this is precisely why the ethos of the pandemic response was so foreign and unsustainable, and why vaccine passports will never be a policy that will be successfully implemented in this country. It’s for the same reason we’ll never have a monarchy: it betrays everything this country is about.
The cultural crisis and the pandemic of loneliness, not to mention the mass wave of substance abuse and depression, reflects the country-wide shock that all our fundamental ideals could so easily have been swept aside for a cockamamie central plan that trampled on everything we believe in and have always practiced however imperfectly. It felt like an invasion of the body snatchers, nowhere better symbolized than with vaccine mandates that most intelligent people knew we didn’t need even if they were safe and effective, which they were not.
Given the depth of this history, this deep love of freedom, equality, and democracy, there will never be regime change in this country. They can rule for a while but not really in a stable way or in a way that will replace the values that are so deeply embedded here. This is why the ruling class is gradually casting off the symbols of the lockdowns from Andrew Cuomo and Randi Weingarten to Rochelle Walensky and Anthony Fauci, who faces torrents of jeers every time he opens his mouth.
Equal freedom is the essence of what it means to live an American life. A ruling-class oligarchy of the sort they tried to impose on the country and the world is fundamentally inconsistent with everything we believe about ourselves and our place in the civic order. Let us proceed to rebuild and reinforce that which is the core of who we are.