Josh Hammer: Democrats’ Recent Rejection of COVID Insanity Will Not Save Them This Fall

As we race toward this fall’s midterm elections, it is obvious to even cursory observers of our political landscape that Democrats are in for a shellacking. As of this writing, both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have job approval ratings that are underwater by double-digit margins. Even more ominous, the RealClearPolitics polling average for voters who have been recently asked about the direction of the country reveals an astonishing 37.5% margin in favor of the idea America is on the “wrong track.”

Put simply, voters can’t stand Biden, hate Harris even more and emphatically think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Also auguring poorly for Democrats is the near-ironclad rule of American politics that a sitting president’s political party will lose seats in the first post-inauguration midterm election. Sensing the writing on the wall, 21 sitting House Democrats have now announced they do not intend to run for reelection — compared with only six House Republicans. The only real question is whether Republicans up and down the ballot this fall will prevail at rates that exceed the Tea Party wave midterm election of 2010.

In a desperate attempt to stave off, or at least mitigate, a veritable electoral bloodbath, Democrats have conveniently decided that now is the time to finally stop obsessing over COVID. Yes, now — right as other polling evinces a majority of Americans want to cease or seriously lessen COVID-induced lifestyle restrictions. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul just announced an end to the Empire State’s statewide masking requirement for businesses, although a mask mandate regrettably remains in place at schools and health care facilities. What’s more, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Oregon and California — all of which, like New York, are Democratic-governed — announced this week their own plans to lift indoor mask mandates either later in February or in March.

These Democratic leaders have invariably pointed to receding caseloads, and perhaps “the science,” more generally, to justify their obviously coordinated reversals on mask mandates. To be sure, mask mandates (for inefficacious masks) and vaccine mandates (for vaccines that do not stop transmission) are bad public policy. So, good for Democrats for finally catching up. Welcome to the party, guys; some of us have been here for a while already.

But Democrats cannot plausibly pretend that “the science” has changed in any meaningful way. All that has changed is their ever-plummeting polling and ever-sinking expected fortunes this fall.

Hochul and California Gov. Gavin Newsom have not had some sort of grand epiphany. There will be no “mea culpa,” no acknowledgment that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had it right on COVID all along. There will be no apologies for the ways that divisive vaccine mandates and pointless mask mandates harm our social fabric and undermine the common good. If Democrats could still politically get away with imposing their will, they would do so. It just turns out they can’t.

Fortunately for Republicans, Democrats’ risible volte-face on COVID hysteria will not spare them the American people’s wrath at the ballot box this fall. For starters, even in terms of COVID, most blue-state parents still face the indignity of seeing their children masked up in school, and thus subject to all the attendant pedagogical and developmental harms wrought by forcing school-age youngsters to cover up in face diapers. Voters also have a long enough memory to recall Biden’s imperious OSHA vaccinate-or-test workplace mandate, which was thankfully enjoined by the Supreme Court but which still amounted to a more brazen act of administrative overreach than anything even former President Barack Obama ever attempted.

But the Democrats’ impending electoral rebuke is far more encompassing. Just this week, the consumer price index — the most widely used and cited measure of inflation — hit a 40-year high, reaching 7.5%. Inflation is regressive insofar as it disproportionately harms lower-income consumers, but it harms everyone. And over the past year, used car prices have shot up 40.5%, gasoline prices have skyrocketed 40% and the price of eggs at the supermarket has increased by 13%. These numbers are simply staggering, and suggest a comeuppance is due.

The Biden-Harris track record in any number of other core governance areas is also appalling. U.S. Customs and Border Protection data for the 2021 calendar year reveal that an astonishing two million aliens were apprehended or turned themselves in — holding aside, of course, those who were successfully able to infiltrate. The yearlong border crisis, viscerally seared in many Americans’ consciences due to the images that emerged last fall out of besieged Del Rio, Texas, was exacerbated by deliberate Biden-Harris decisions. The administration’s rescission of the highly effective Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy comes to mind.

On the foreign policy front, Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal, though overdue and correct in theory, was so botched, humiliating and galling in its execution that it was impeachment worthy.

Meanwhile, thugs Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, who have Taiwan and Ukraine squarely in their respective crosshairs, scoff at the United States and openly propose a new world order. At the same time, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s number one state sponsor of jihad, inches ever-closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The American people historically punish political incompetence, and the doddering dolt who is our commander in chief is a Harvard Business School-worthy case study in gross incompetence.

Republicans are on track to win big this fall, and at this point there is nothing Democrats can do to prevent it.

PHOTO: Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2020 Iowa State Education Association. Photo by Gage Skidmore. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Josh Hammer is opinion editor of Newsweek, a research fellow with the Edmund Burke Foundation, counsel and policy advisor for the Internet Accountability Project, a syndicated columnist through Creators and a contributing editor for Anchoring Truths. A frequent pundit and essayist on political, legal and cultural issues, Josh is a constitutional attorney by training and the co-host of two podcasts: Newsweek's "The Debate" and the Edmund Burke Foundation's "NatCon Squad."

An outspoken conservative, Josh opines on conservative intellectual trends, contemporary domestic and foreign policy debates, constitutional and legal issues, and the intersection of law, politics and culture. He has been published by many leading outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, Newsweek, National Affairs, American Affairs, The National Interest, National Review, City Journal, First Things, Public Discourse, Law & Liberty, Tablet Magazine, Deseret Magazine, The Spectator, The American Conservative, The American Mind, American Greatness, American Compass, Anchoring Truths, Townhall, The Epoch Times, The Daily Wire, Fortune, Fox Business, Pairagraph, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, The Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Jewish Journal. He has had formal legal scholarship published by the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy and the University of St. Thomas Law Journal.

Josh is a college campus speaker through Intercollegiate Studies Institute and Young America's Foundation, as well as a law school campus speaker through the Federalist Society. Prior to Newsweek and the Daily Wire, where he was an editor, Josh worked at a large law firm and clerked for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Josh has also served as a John Marshall Fellow with the Claremont Institute.

Josh graduated from Duke University, where he majored in economics, and from the University of Chicago Law School. He lives in Miami, but remains an active member of the State Bar of Texas.