I believe the poll showing that Americans want to keep gun stores closed is correct. But people’s real views on any given topic are always more complicated than any poll can tease out. Very few people want to tell pollsters they think the economy is more important than saving grandma. What this poll tells you is that for many people, saving grandma is important to them. How many people who say “yes,” gun shops should stay closed were frantically calling around trying to make an appointment to buy guns? A whole lot if you believe the NICS figures.
Just to give a personal anecdote, someone asked yesterday whether I think the response was a) appropriate, b) inadequate, or c) excessive. Really all three, depending on context. But I chose c), and that reveals what I care about. Because in front of my mind are:
- The drive up church services being busted up.
- Golf courses being allowed to open but not outdoor shooting ranges.
- California’s Governor threatening to close down beaches which can be used safely if people stay apart.
- The arbitrary enforcement of the lockdown rules in some states (Home Depot and Lowes are getting away with violations that small businesses aren’t, and it’s destroying them).
But, generally speaking, I think the broad quarantine orders were understandable given the circumstances of where I live. Maybe not if you lived somewhere COVID was largely absent when the orders came. But no government response is going to be overflowing with competence. One reason you haven’t seen me going off on political rants is I have very low expectations of what government is capable of, and I think expecting competence is naive. Government is a poor tool to fix what ails society. Sometimes it’s all we got, but it’s never going to be really good at the things it does which are necessary. And it certainly won’t perform well during a century level crisis where nobody really has a clue.
Overall, I don’t think there’s any unity in this country at all. I’m seeing awful behavior from nearly everyone. This is exacerbating our divisions and bringing out the worst on the left and right: both have their respective pathologies dialed up to 11. What’s needed is adaptability and a little humility, and I’m not seeing any of that. When we come out of this crisis, I think our political divisions will be much worse than the already sorry state we entered it with.