It would be the greatest social experiment of the past century.
Unfortunately, it can never happen because it would require a time machine to do it.
I can’t help but wonder what our nation would look like today if in January of 2020, President Donald Trump had taken a different stance on coronavirus. What if he embraced wearing masks, social distancing, and other precautions?
It seems silly now to think a Republican might support wearing a mask or getting vaccinated, but that stance is relatively new. It was just 18 short months ago when America was unfamiliar with the coronavirus pandemic. We hadn’t even had our first case in the U.S.
Coronavirus was uncharted territory. How would we react?
Just 18 months later, we know the virus has become highly political. Republicans tend to shun wearing masks, viewing it as a violation of their personal freedom. Republicans don’t see a need to get vaccinated.
Democrats tend to get vaccinated with much more frequency. And Democrats appear more willing to wear a mask if it will help stop the spread of a virus, regardless of whether the mask is uncomfortable.
Don’t view this column as an endorsement for one stance or the other. I’m merely pointing out how politicians are treating the pandemic, which is very much ongoing.
But back to the social experiment. I can’t help but wonder the stance Republicans and Democrats would have today if, 18 months ago, President Trump had fully embraced wearing masks and treated the virus with grave seriousness. What if he participated in a massive PSA campaign where he urged all Americans, urged all of his supporters, to get vaccinated and wear masks?
And what if Democrats adopted an opposite stance 18 months ago. In the face of President Trump’s serious tone, what if Democrats dismissed the virus and said it was of no real concern. What if Democrats said it was a fake virus which was only manufactured by the media to harm their chances of winning the White House in the 2020 election?
It’s a social experiment where we can never know the answer because we can’t travel back to January of 2020. But my suspicion is if President Trump had taken a pro-mask stance, something he could have easily decided to do, the Republican Party would have followed his lead.
And if key Democratic leaders adopted the stance that wearing a mask was robbing Americans of yet another freedom and imposing more needless regulations, I think a number of left-leaning Americans would have hopped aboard that boat.
If just a handful of national leaders decided to take a different stance, if Fox News decided to take a different stance, think of how many people would be on the other side of the argument right now.
How’d we take sides over a virus in the first place? I have no idea. But if President Trump and a few key Democrats decided to take different stances 18 months ago, I think 70% of Warren County would be vaccinated right now instead of 30%.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.