COVID Spawns Bipolar Political Behavior

The COVID pandemic is likely to have many, as yet unknown, long-term effects. In the short term, there appear to be a number of distressing political phenomena that can be head-scratching. Some extremes in response to the pandemic offer divergent directions that could mark the tenor of public dialogue about many topics.

One obvious effect of COVID-19 is the demand upon the nation’s health care system and coverage for its citizens. Since Governor Ralph Northam’s emergency declaration in early March, nearly 70,000 Virginians have enrolled in Medicaid, adding to the hundreds of thousands who had previously signed up.

This improved procedure is a no-brainer which, according to the release, “allows Virginia to streamline the process for healthcare providers to enroll in the Medicaid program and receive reimbursement for services.” 

In a recent news release, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services announced it has received federal approval for an emergency waiver giving the Medicaid agency the authority to take additional steps to ensure access to care for its members and to address priority needs identified by health care providers. Readers may recall the powerful opposition to the Commonwealth’s participation in expanding the program under the Affordable Care Act. This improved procedure is a no-brainer which, according to the release, “allows Virginia to streamline the process for healthcare providers to enroll in the Medicaid program and receive reimbursement for services.” 

Secondly, a national debate has emerged concerning the threat of COVID-19 to the voting process, causing several states to implement enhanced mail/absentee balloting and loosening other requirements. Because the Old Dominion’s state law requires voters (until July 1 of this year) to list a reason why they can’t vote in person on Election Day, the Virginia Board of Elections has advised voters they can choose the “disability or illness” option on the form. Several other states have inaugurated large-scale mail balloting, causing P45 to declare that such changes are illegal and rife for fraud. He did allow for the fact that his Florida mail-in ballot was necessary.

Not surprisingly, Virginia’s decision has been challenged in a lawsuit commenced by a conservative attorney from Indiana by the name of James Bopp, an architect of Citizens United and a leader in a number of social cause legal actions. The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of six Virginia voters. Ironically, the Bopp brief validates one purpose of the state’s emergency restrictions:

The same social distancing and good hygiene practices—which are effective for preventing the spread of the virus when going out for essential services, like grocery shopping and other essential services—are also an effective way to prevent the spread of the virus for in-person voting.

The lawsuit also says that “a dramatic increase in absentee ballots “would be a logistical nightmare and increase the risk of disenfranchisement. Due to the sudden surge in absentee ballots that will result from the Plan, many voters will be disenfranchised because requested ballots never arrive or arrive too late and filled-out ballots get lost or are delayed in the return process.”

Nonetheless, the lawsuit also says that a dramatic increase in absentee ballots “would be a logistical nightmare and increase the risk of disenfranchisement. Due to the sudden surge in absentee ballots that will result from the Plan, many voters will be disenfranchised because requested ballots never arrive or arrive too late and filled-out ballots get lost or are delayed in the return process.” Never allow a rational reason to stand in the path of a political point of view.

COVID-19 has not been reported to cause cognitive impairment, unlike some reported side effects of hydroxychloroquine. It is likely true that the pandemic has and will generate psychological distress of one type or another. As the two events noted here suggest, the pandemic is spawning bipolar political viewpoints that promise to plague us into the future. At the moment, the bifurcation of views also seems resistant to humor. Perhaps the saving grace will involve increasing patience among citizens as they regard these types of bipolar behavior. That is no suggestion or recommendation that sports viewers and fans will be satisfied. Alas, disparate theories may arise to explain a single cause.

 

 

 



Categories: coronavirus, Issues, Local, National, pandemic, State, Voting

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