This past May was a month flooded with fear and uncertainty. In many places, including my native New York, the global COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak. Case counts and death tolls seemed to exponentially increase by the day. In some areas of New York City, refrigerated trucks were even being used as morgues for all the dead bodies that were unable to be taken to funeral homes. The economy, which was booming as recently as a couple of months prior, had plummeted, and unemployment skyrocketed to almost 15%. Mass hysteria ensued. Paper towels and toilet paper were almost completely sold out of stores, including at the one where I worked.
What the majority of Americans, especially those from Democratic-controlled states, remember the most about this time was the quarantine. Even in late May, two months after the initial lockdown began, most of us blue-state dwellers could not leave our homes – except to buy groceries or perform other tasks our politicians and the virus “experts” deemed “essential.” New York was one of these states, and Governor Cuomo’s stay-at-home order was one of the strictest in the nation. “Non-essential” businesses such as restaurants, bars, barbershops, and gyms, to name a few, were shuttered – many of them have since gone out of business forever. All of this had a profound negative effect on our mental health because, in addition to many of us losing our jobs, we were deprived of in-person social interaction and most of the activities that bring joy and pleasure to our lives. We ought to not take these things for granted after the pandemic passes.
However, the lockdown was incredibly popular among the public. At the end of April, roughly 80% of Americans favored a continued mandatory quarantine. A few weeks later in mid-May, 55% were reported to oppose protests by individuals who supported the re-opening of the economy. I was a part of this majority, who believed that the lockdown, while unfortunate, was completely necessary for the common good of the country, to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the deadly virus.
As a self-professed conservative, my staunch anti-re-open stance made me a pariah in these circles, which overwhelmingly favored early re-opening over the continuation of the lockdown. In May, I would get into debates with fellow right-leaning people about this, where I would be often called a “liberal” or a “leftist” for my different position on this single issue.
I have always considered myself to be on the center-right of the political spectrum, and I’ve always valued compromise, finding common ground and coalition-building over ideological purity. What also sets me apart from many of my more hard-right and hard-left peers is the fact that consistency and logic always guide my political philosophy over an emotional response. For example, I keep a consistent life ethic – meaning that I am not only against abortion, but I err on the side of protecting life and human dignity on all other issues. I also strongly oppose the death penalty and hardline anti-immigration and anti-crime policies – which sets me apart from predominant conservative orthodoxy.
My “pro-life for the whole life” stance was why I supported the lockdown. On May 25, I published an entry on my personal blog entitled “The Conservative Case Against Re-Opening.” There, I explained that I was pro-lockdown because I was pro-life and of the belief that the government must do everything to protect all life at all costs. I noted that “the parties’ views on the COVID-19 lockdowns are somehow completely opposite from their respective stances on abortion. Conservatives protesting the stay-at-home orders…hold that their individual rights are being violated. On the other hand…lockdown proponents, most of them on the political left, argue that peoples’ rights to go to work, a gym or a restaurant, end when the rights of America’s elderly and other vulnerable population to live begins. Therefore, when it comes to measures taken during the current pandemic, Republicans are pro-choice, and the Democrats are pro-life.”
I came to the conclusion that because I am both pro-life and anti-hypocrisy, it made logical sense for me to oppose early re-opening. This was my opinion in May. It is now August and as the months have passed, my stance on COVID-19 has evolved…
Read part-two, Why We Don’t Need a Lockdown – Anymore.