WASHINGTON, D.C. — Old Town, Virginia bustled with activity this past, sunny Friday afternoon. Across the river from the nation’s capital, shoppers strolled by shop windows, dogs and baby carriages filled the streets, unmasked restaurant patrons soaked in the people-watching and the beverages, and young women posed for photos in front of handsome, fire-engine red doors. Aside from the majority of strollers wearing masks, the scene greatly resembled a spring day in 2019.
Across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and just up the B-W Parkway Saturday, Baltimore’s Fells Point teemed with young and old alike. Just about 35 miles north of D.C., lines formed outside, customers filled the bar stools and live music filled the rooms, while maybe half of those enjoying the warm sun and cool breeze even bothered with masks.
Meanwhile, Saturday in Baltimore, only 45 minutes from my DC home. Live music, open bars, and crowds. These aren't distant Republicans, @MurielBowser , they're nearby liberal Democrats. What are you waiting for to have so much as their courage? pic.twitter.com/R35oXsmyHM
— Christopher Bedford (@CBedfordDC) March 29, 2021
Both Old Town and Baltimore are controlled by left-wing Democrats. For much of the past year, business owners in these cities have struggled and gone out of business under constantly shifting edicts, regulations, and timelines, some of which continue to this day. But by and large this weekend, gone were the Zoom happy hours and an actual normalcy was in the air.
Back in nearby Washington, while warm days see more and more residents venturing into the sunshine, the overwhelming feeling remains deeply oppressive. A short walk shows young couples more than 100 feet away from anyone holding hands but still wearing one, sometimes two, masks. Little children on playgrounds are fitted by their parents with child-sized face coverings. Flabby, mentally unhinged loners shriek at strangers walking outdoors without the proper face gear.
It’s amazing no one’s started marketing canine masks for the thousands of dogs out and about on the Hill every sunny day; many residents would hurry to buy them up. It’s also a wonder Dr. Anthony Fauci hasn’t recommended this yet, although he did spend his Sunday morning warning Americans not to let little children play without their masks. That’s little children playing outdoors, despite even President Joe Biden insisting that kids — who are neither likely to contract nor transmit COVID-19 — are “the safest group of people in the whole world.”
Between glamor shoots and constant television appearances, Fauci keeps busy, but does he understand what is happening outside of Washington? Does he have any idea where Americans are on all this?
While he was quick to warn us not to watch the Super Bowl with friends and family, Florida’s “super spreader event” never came to pass, did it? Nor, for that matter, did the explosion in cases he predicted when the Sunshine State ended lockdowns back in the fall. Nor, come to think of it, did anything come of his predictions for Texas.
Undeterred, every week he hands down new proclamations covering everything from where students can sit to how kids can play, while his colleague over at the Centers for Disease Control abandoned even a semblance of science on Monday, resorting instead to literal tears and a “feeling I have of impending doom.” The same “feeling” they all had for Texas and Florida, no doubt.
Those who have traveled across the country these past few months, worked every day or at least most of this lockdown, visited family a few states away, or even just spent some time driving around the countryside, know that outside of our most liberal strongholds and even inside some of them, Americans are sick and tired of unending lockdowns. Each empty timeline, promise and threat, no matter how novel, just seems cheaper than the last.
In his first primetime speech, Biden told Americans that if they do everything Fauci tells them, “there is a good chance you, your family and friends can get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day.” Or as the writers at The Onion laughed, “Biden Announces Americans Will Be Able To Do What They Did At Christmas By July 4.”
Just as the accusations and meltdowns of unstable people will grow louder as fewer of their neighbors live by their fears, so too will the warnings from Fauci and his allies grow in severity as few Americans live by their words. People don’t like losing power. But while a number of us have already surrendered so much for a whisper of safety, most Americans don’t like giving up our power either. As a good number of our fellow citizens have demonstrated, the first thing needed to free ourselves is to simply stop listening.