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Port: Will the election cure coronavirus?

Something as easy and completely benign as wearing a facemask has morphed into ideological trench warfare, with the anti-maskers carrying on as if they're being forced into concentration camps and the pro-maskers all but asking for the dissenters to be tasered into submission by the nearest cop.

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North Dakota State University students line up to take pictures with the masked bison statue on campus during orientation day on Friday, Aug. 21, in Fargo. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum
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MINOT, N.D. — Every day, we hear it.

The incessant drumbeat about the coronavirus.

New cases.

New deaths.

New food fights over what we ought to do and what we ought to stop doing.

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Do you wonder if the tone of all this will change after the election?

Certain people, many of them professional pundits who write columns or host talk shows, seemingly believe the election will cure the coronavirus. To hear them tell it, the only reason this virus is spreading is for want of policies more in line with their preferred ideology.

This notion, foolish as it is, has hurt our ability to respond to the virus.

Something as easy and completely benign as wearing a facemask has morphed into ideological trench warfare, with the anti-maskers carrying on as if they're being forced into concentration camps and the pro-maskers all but asking for the dissenters to be tasered into submission by the nearest cop.

Sensationalism from the news media hasn't helped, either.

We live in a time when trust in institutions like journalism and academia is in sharp decline, and a lot of the blame has to be placed at the feet of journalists and academics.

On Jan. 31, President Donald Trump put restrictions on travel to the U.S. from China, the epicenter of the global coronavirus outbreak. The journalists and academics were falling all over themselves to criticize it.

Vice President Joe Biden called the move "hysterical xenophobia." In the New York Times epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Osterholm called the move "more of an emotional or political reaction." At the same time, the Washington Post ran pleas from a Chinese apparatchik who wanted "empathy" for his country in the face of that dastardly Trump's restrictions "in disregard of WHO recommendation against travel restrictions."

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In the early going, it seemed as though President Trump was taking coronavirus more seriously than the Democrats and the national news media, and even global health authorities.

Things have since flipped. Trump and Republicans are downplaying while the news media and Democrats relish each new milestone of suffering with an almost ghoulish zeal.

Positions on the seriousness of coronavirus seem to flip all the time. Remember when the academics and the medical community were against the protests against coronavirus lockdowns, only to take exactly the opposite position on Black Lives Matter protests just weeks later?

It's almost as if their statements are being filtered through their politics.

Which makes me wonder, what happens after election day? When the ballots are counted, and the importance of the coronavirus as a political cudgel is diminished?

I suspect the shift in the national tone is going to be remarkable.

That's unfortunate because the virus should be taken seriously.

It has killed hundreds here in North Dakota, and hundreds of thousands nationally, all while the pundits and politicians point fingers at one another.

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To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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