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Dear Political Animals,
The other day, I was sitting around thinking about how the coronavirus has just surpassed the OJ Simpson trial as the best marketing tool for the PR industry in history. Right now people are absolutely losing their minds over the government “moving the goal posts” from “flatten the curve” to “no price too high to save a life.” I think that at some point Andrew Cuomo was also just grunting the words, “prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed” over-and-over, and to be honest, I am still not sure if people even agree on what the correct name for the virus is. For a minute people were just calling it “Wuhan” but then the PC cops showed up; basic b*tches like me call it “coronavirus;” and fancy people call it “COVID-19” without realizing that it makes them sound like one of those squares who tries to order a “croissant” at Starbucks with a proper French accent. And then there are, of course, those of us who just call the pandemic “the ‘Ronies.”
WTF is going on?
The absence of a clear and concise message about what the coronavirus is, what its risks are, and how we plan to mitigate them in the short and long term is giving the public its own mental disease. Some of this is Trump’s fault. Some of it is bad luck due to the fact that scientists don’t really know or understand COVID because it’s so new. This has caused them to miss bigly by claiming the virus was “not contagious” and by projecting body counts that massively over-estimated its danger.
So with America left rudderless and desperately in need of a PR team that can communicate what is going on, a few lunatic war tribes are forming based on the information and action plans they think are best. This is how they line-up, from Right-to-Left:
The “But Sweden” Tribe: These are hard-right folks who openly admit that letting the weak die is preferable to the economic consequences of continued lockdowns. Huge crossover in ideology between “But Swedens” and the “Own the Libs” and Ron Paul tribes.
The “Back to Business as Usual” Tribe: Most likely inhabited by middle aged, upper-middle class men with a conservative leaning. They have good health care plans, are either healthy or rich enough to believe they are, and don’t need to ride the subway to work. They have probably laid-off employees and feel a sense of responsibility to their own finances and those of their dependents.
The “Grandma Killer” Tribe: Most likely young people living in dense cities who are inclined to think that Neil deGrasse Tyson is closer to God than Jesus Christ. These people are educated (but not necessarily affluent) and work in businesses that either (1) allow you to telecommute; or (2) require them to serve food at restaurants where the risks of disease transmission are high.
The “Everything is Better Overseas” Tribe: These are middle-aged liberal folks who envy the fashion trends and welfare states of social democracies like Denmark, despite the fact that they have smaller and more homogenous populations than J. Crew’s mailing list. They want to know why Denmark, Singapore, and South Korea had an easier time managing this crisis than the USA, and they generally assume it has something to do with the Emoluments Clause, Trump’s secret meeting with Putin in Prague, and the Republican Party’s longstanding commitment to eating the flesh of the poor.
The “Rent is Too Damn High” Tribe: The fastest growing of all clans. Initially, this group was composed of working people and immigrants; but as the financial consequences of the coronavirus have started spilling upwards on the socio-economic ladder, more and more people are joining this group that is demanding suspension of rent collection, tax payments, and student debt. As this group grows, some will split-off into the “Return to Business As Usual” Tribe and some will further radicalize into hardcore, burn-this-motherf-er-down socialists.
Which team are you on?