By now everyone has seen the videos from the lake this weekend, and if you didn’t see them in real-time, you couldn’t miss seeing them from the finger-wagging of the sanctimonious crowd’s social media feeds and editorials.
The urban liberal media narrative is predictable: There were knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers from rural Missouri disobeying the government’s dictates, and now the governor should send out the KGB — I mean National Guard — to knock heads and make the rubes do what we say.
Well, I was at the lake this weekend. Not in the pools but on the lake.
I heard from three folks who work at the lake that there was an interesting scene that unfolded at Shady Gators, one of the largest bars on the lake. Which, by the way, makes amazing chicken nachos.
On Saturday, the DJ asked the crowd, “Who is in the house from the STL,” and the crowd roared.
Then he asked, “Who is in the house from the 816,” and again the crowd roared.
It’s well known among folks in central Missouri, not that any of the finger-waggers would ever care about getting to know central Missouri outside of Mizzou, that the locals don’t often go to Gators or Coconuts or Backwater Jacks or even Dog Days. The people who come in are from St. Louis and Kansas City who frequent the big pool bars.
I’m just a simple hillbilly, but it’s quite interesting to me that the places with the strictest government regulations on COVID-19 and the biggest and loudest group of social media virtue warriors who seem to delight in proclaiming their virtue by what they wear and where they don’t go, not only have the largest amounts of coronavirus cases but are actually the ones who filled the lake’s pool bars this weekend.
Now, did the fine people of Camden County greet these visitors from the city with finger-wagging and lecturing? No. They welcomed them with kindness and hospitality. Maybe it’s just that enough of them don’t follow city slickers on Twitter to know how sanctimonious they should have acted.
When this started all you heard was #FlattenTheCurve. Well, at some point the narrative has changed to stay home until we find a cure.
That just isn’t reality.
I respect people who don’t want to go to the lake or who choose to wear a mask. I can even respect people who choose not to leave their homes. If you are over 70 or have a pre-existing condition, especially those in nursing homes, those decisions are common sense. No one should feel ashamed for protecting themselves — be it with a gun or a mask.
In the beginning, you heard about testing and contact tracing and that the entire state was going to be taken up in a hail of pandemic death. I remember when Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker was on television asking people to come back to Franklin County and shop.
I saw several predictions that Franklin County would explode in a nuclear reaction of COVID. Well, I was driving from Jefferson City to St. Louis that Sunday and drove through a parking lot in Washington. I saw three Bernie Sanders bumper stickers.
Now, unless support for socialism has exploded amongst the fine Germans of New Haven, that might have more likely been St. Louis folks fleeing to freedom in Franklin County.
It’s not true that this isn’t a serious situation; it’s deadly serious. Coronavirus isn’t a hoax or a plan to hurt President Trump or any of the theories some of the right-wing crazies espouse, but it’s also not an excuse to perpetually shut down Missouri and order every citizen in the state to comply with your theories of how to end a pandemic.
Serious times aren’t the times for the crazies on either side. Serious times are for sober rational leaders. A good rule of thumb is that any solution that is supported by the extremists on social media isn’t a good one.
Governor Parson has done a good job of his response when he has kept the response local. Probably the worst move he has made was those weeks treating the most diverse state in the nation like one big suburb. I guess he knows you can’t force Missouri counties that have fewer cases of coronavirus than Cubs fans to react to a pandemic that simply hasn’t emerged in their communities.
It’s not partisan or that opening up is the only answer. Tim Brinker isn’t the only star here. In my view, Lyda Krewson, Sam Page, and Quinton Lucas have done a good job responding to their unique communities’ unique concerns. If their citizens don’t like their response, they can vote for someone else to lead their communities during the next crisis. It’s much easier for a community to change Presiding Commissioners than change Governors.
President Trump has real questions to answer about why, after months of this crisis, Missourians still can’t get a COVID test if they want one.
However, if you took contact tracing to a macro-level, the vast majority of the cases in the state are in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.
With that in mind, maybe the best way for people at the lake to contain the coronavirus would be for the pool bars to check the IDs of everyone and not allow people from St. Louis and Kansas City to enter.
However, that wouldn’t be their rural hospitable way. Also, it might not be the most effective strategy because at this point it should be obvious that finger-wagging is not a way to lead.
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton, Mo; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.