The Crisis of a House Divided

The end of 2021.
Ben Domenech
Dec 31

The Crisis Of The House Divided

Back in September, at the annual gathering of our aristocratic betters known as the Met Gala, one of their loudest advocates made a statement with her dress. New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed up with the slogan “TAX THE RICH” emblazoned on her gown, and everyone had a good laugh about it. The rich were, after all, right there at the party with her, and she didn’t get her invitation because they actually believe she’s any threat to them. Give the Congresswoman this: she knows her business is show business.

But that isn’t the only statement she made with her couture. It isn’t even the most important one. The most enduring and significant message sent by AOC — and by all the Met-Gala attendees — was the one embedded in the photographs she gladly shared with press. The New York Times ran one of them, heading a story entitled, “AOC’s Met Gala Dress Triggered Strong Reactions.” There, you see a beaming AOC — isn’t she clever? isn’t she arch? — modeling her dress, as a masked attendant kneels on the floor, smoothing out the fit. The Times story notes that “a masked aide [held] up the train of her dress while she smiled brightly and waved at her fans.” She “sent a message,” said Vogue.

But it wasn’t the message she, the Met-Gala attendees, the New York Times, or Vogue intended. It certainly wasn’t one they recognized or understood.

Years from now, when we look back on the Met Gala of 2021, we won’t remember the exhortation to “tax the rich.” It’s a tired slogan with literally centuries of history to it, and its invocation now will evaporate when the moment does.

What we’ll remember is the masked men and women who appear — nameless, faceless, expressionless, thankless — in the background of the lives of the elites, on the fringes of their decadent celebrations.

They’re kneeling on the floor.

They’re fitting the clothes.

They’re serving the food.

They’re pouring the wine.

They’re… working.

While the powerful, the rich, the celebrities, the politicians party and delight in their unearned gilt and glitter, they’re working.

These Americans are working while their rulers have made them hide their faces. They have made them hide their faces, with the excuse of public health and a bygone crisis — all the better to make the rest of us look at them, as they party, and preen.

It isn’t just the Met Gala. It isn’t just AOC. You can see the awful spectacle of unmasked and free elites, served as they dine … or celebrate … or shop … by masked working Americans nearly everywhere these days. You can see it in high-end restaurants. You can see it at catered events. You can see it in the cities where the rich gather and the poor work, and there is less and less middle class to speak of. They’re all blue cities, of course: San Francisco. New York. Austin. Washington, D.C.

Last month Anthony Fauci, Pope of Science, was spotted hobnobbing at a book party for ABC’s Jonathan Karl at Washington’s Cafe Milano. He was pulling his mask off and on as he moved through the crowd, and reportedly explained this by telling DC society maven Sally Quinn — who once penned an erotic novel about a Fauci-inspired character back before everyone in the authoritarian left was doing it – that “I just decided that if anyone came up that I didn’t know, I would put my mask on.”

This was during a citywide mask mandate by the way. But Fauci had nothing to worry about. It’s not like anyone would arrest him, or that he would know any of the help. The masks are for them, after all.

On the precipice of the Year of Our Lord 2022, with the COVID-19 pandemic entering its third year, this is what the panic and politics of the disease has brought us: a house divided.

Measures that might have made sense in early 2020 — when there was no good understanding of the sickness, no vaccines, no therapies, and no experience as guide — make no sense now. In early 2020, nearly the entire nation was willing to do its part to beat an onrushing plague by enduring lockdowns, masking up, socially distancing, and more.

We’re Americans, and pulling together is what we do. But because we’re Americans, we have expectations of our representatives, our leadership, and our institutions. When they keep faith, we honor their demands of us: not because we are ruled, but because we are citizens.

When they don’t keep faith, well, we kick them to the curb. Or we ought to.

The years of the pandemic have sharply illuminated the bad faith, incompetence, and dim-wittedness of those representatives, that leadership, and these institutions. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, otherwise known as day 655 of “15 days to slow the spread” — and it’s safe to say at this point that nearly the whole formal apparatus of American civic life has written for itself a record of failure in the response to COVID-19.

The pandemic — which is, make no mistake, serious and deserving of public attention — has advanced and receded according to its own logic and imperatives, nearly impervious to any public policy decreed by our hapless leadership.

Travel bans haven’t worked.

Mask mandates haven’t worked.

Lockdowns haven’t worked.

Social distancing hasn’t worked.

The entirety of an incompetent public-health and epidemiological apparatus hasn’t worked.

The whole toolkit of ham-fisted government hasn’t worked.

About the only thing that has worked reasonably well is the American pharmaceutical sector. If you’re comfortable getting vaccinated, well, Moderna designed its COVID-19 vaccine in just two days in January 2020. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, there are an array of effective therapies — from new pills to monoclonal antibodies — coming rapidly onto the market. If you don’t feel comfortable with the vaccines or the therapies, well, there are reasonably accurate tests you can take to let you know if you even have COVID-19.

American citizens in American private enterprise have responded well to the pandemic. But the American government’s role in all this has been mostly to delay, suppress, or create artificial scarcities with all these things. It’s almost as if, heaven forfend, the ruling class wants the pandemic to continue.

They couldn’t actually want that. Could they?

In the places where that class’s grip is tightest, the pandemic’s theater continues its dreadful run. It’s impossible to miss the political contours as we tip into the 2022 midterm year. Call up any Presidential-election map of the past twenty years, and you’ll see it immediately. The red states are generally the ones where they don’t make Americans wear masks, and where they don’t make Americans receive vaccines. Americans are free to do both, of course, in all those states — but they are not forced, and that’s the essential point now.

It is the blue states where you see the opposite. A blue state isn’t simply shorthand for Democratic control: it signifies rule by a intersection of media, academic, plutocratic, and cultural elites over a citizenry that either welcomes that rule, or is too cowed or disempowered to do anything about it. It is these states — New York, Illinois, California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and beyond — where we see the statewide compulsions to receive a vaccine. It is these states where we see the statewide compulsion to wear a mask.

It is also these states where we see no significant empirical difference in pandemic outcomes versus, say, a free state like Florida or Texas.

So why do they persist? Now that we are moving into pandemic year three, now that we’ve tried everything and found it all lacking, now that we know every citizen is going to make his own decision on risk, on prevention, on treatment — why in 2022 do they double down on the 2020 toolkit? Do they not understand events? Have they learned nothing?

If only it were that simple. If only it was a mere case of governing-elite stupidity. If only it was their characteristic incapacity in grasping events.

It is something worse. You must understand it, because it is the difference between your future as a citizen, and a different future — as a subject. They persist in the masking, in the lockdowns, in the travel bans, in the coercion, because it expresses and enables their rule. Period, full stop. The masked anonymous drones holding the train of a progressive superstar’s party gown is exactly what they want Americans to be. Stripping identity is what they do these days, whether it’s poisoning your children against America in the public schools, tearing down monuments of our Founders … or erasing your face from public view … while their own bright smiles beam in the limelight.

We are a house divided, on this cusp of a new year. In one America, the free America, families are gathered, there are New Year’s parties, loved ones share time and memories, communities thrive, children learn in person, and life goes on — despite the shadow of COVID, every person assessing risk and acting accordingly.

In the other America, the unfree America, a neurotic fixation atomizes communities, pulls families apart, perpetrates child abuse with remote schooling and mandatory masking, curbs the worship of God, forces medical procedures on pain of ostracism and unemployment, and subjects absolutely everyone to the capricious rule of an unqualified elite. There, Americans are reduced to anonymized servitude, cogs in the machine of the state, masked and cloistered and kept alone in their apartments — with no end in sight.

It is not a regrettable necessity. It is the desired outcome of the authoritarian left. It is their vision for the future. The people get their money from the government, their food delivered to the door, their marching orders from social media, their instruction via Zoom, their entertainment from the Oculus Rift. As Father John Misty sang, “The future’s definition is so much higher than it was last year.”

You might be wondering why this miserable system is the goal of the authoritarian left. The simplest answer is: because they think they know better than you. We are ruled by mediocrities, people who could never thrive in private industry, technocrats who believe they can central plan us into a better future… even as all the evidence around us suggests they’re planning us into oblivion.

You need to wake up to this reality. And now that you are awake — you need to fight. A house divided against itself, after all, cannot stand.

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