As the coronavirus pandemic continues to dramatically change the day-to-day lives of Americans, it’s also resulting in a political transformation. In times of strife such as these, a sense of national unity can be called for by officials on Capitol Hill and emerge from the people. However, this hasn’t been the case.
When many states began shutting down, fears over whether or not COVID-19 would become a partisan matter seemed to be put to rest for a bit, as the whole country focused on medical assistance and cooperation in their respective shutdowns. And yet, as states have begun reopening individually, there is a clear difference in the red and blue states as to who is planning on reopening sooner and who is being more cautious.
As the U.S. enters its second month of federal lockdown, and every state has begun the process of or has completed reopening, a widening political divide on this health issue is evident. There have been countless mixed messages in terms of handling the virus, from a federal level down to state and local governments, and it seems to be affecting individual responses.
For many, the main source of direction comes from President Trump. Back in February, he gave a speech to his rally attendees in South Carolina on how COVID-19 was just a “new hoax” from the Democrats and nothing to worry about. In another instance earlier this month, Trump was seen touring a mask manufacturing plant in Phoenix, Arizona without wearing a mask of his own. As the leader of the nation, his example is being mimicked in many areas of the U.S. and may be seen as a contributing factor in creating this political divide.
Angry protests demanding the stay-at-home orders be lifted have emerged across the nation, including Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Many of the arguments against the measures taken stem from worry about the damage the shutdown has done and will continue to do to the economy. Some of these concerns are grounded, but it’s been difficult to come to a rational solution while Mr. Trump continues to feed the fire with polarized comments such “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”, as he posted on Twitter last month.
When looking at other sources of information and policy regarding the pandemic, there is a split in the political spectrum. State and local officials have instituted their own plans of action to varying degrees. With many Democratic strongholds, such as New York City and Chicago, being among the first hit by the virus, they had to enact plans much more swiftly and dramatically than rural areas that tend to be more Republican: just one of the ways this political divide could be seen forming.
With an increasing polarization between the Republican and Democratic points of view on the coronavirus, not even this pandemic has been able to unite Americans. Without any specific foe to unite against, the fight against the pandemic falls to the wayside, giving way to meaningless battles over what is true and what is false. Meanwhile, both sides of the partisanship continue to fall victim to a virus not bound by any political preference.