Americans are deeply divided over the reopening of the country, and like most everything else these days, it’s political.
In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) breaks down why.
“Liberals emphasize the dangers of an open society, shaming those who want to go back to work. Conservatives argue the opposite. Red states are steadily reopening, while most blue states lag,” he writes. “House Democrats believe it isn’t safe for lawmakers to go back to work, while the Republican-controlled Senate is back in session.”
One explanation advanced is that liberals will do, say, and desire the opposite of whatever President Trump believes, he says. There’s also the geographic breakdown—the urban vs. rural divide, although this is not as black and white as it seems. And finally, the economic devastation of the shutdown may be felt less by the left-leaning and college-educated who are more likely to be able to work from home, while less educated, working-class Americans have been harder hit.
“Finally, the far left is treating the lockdowns and the consequent economic devastation as an opportunity to 'restructure' America into a socialist utopia,” he writes. “So they’re in no rush.”
But he offers a deeper analysis for why we’re seeing such a great divide over reopening.
These factors contribute to the partisan divide, but I believe a complete account would take us deeper, into the realm of psychology and morality. Liberal and conservative brain function has been shown to differ considerably during exercises in risk-taking. These differences led researchers to conclude that socially conservative views are driven, at least in part, by people’s need to feel safe and secure. While liberals present themselves as more open to experience and change, conservatives seem more likely to protect that which we know. This divide appears to apply to multiculturalism, traditional institutions and financial risk, but not all unknown risks.
Today conservatives are the ones ready to confront risk head-on. That’s consistent with my experience in the military, where the overwhelming majority of special operators identify as conservatives. Recent data confirm my experiences, indicating that high-risk civilian occupations tend to be filled by those who lean right. If conservatives show more brain activity when processing fear, they also seem better at overcoming it.
Liberals are also more comfortable with a government that regulates more behavior and provides more services. They often say, “You can’t be free if you don’t have service X, Y and Z.” Such statements sound nonsensical to conservative ears. The conservative emphasis on personal responsibility leaves less room for the government micromanagement we’re witnessing now. (WSJ)
In the end, Crenshaw says it's time for America to reopen "in a smart and deliberate fashion." The left shouldn't be demonizing the right because they want to get back to work and take the risks associated with doing so, he argues.