However severe or not severe Omicron turns out to be, the latest COVID-19 wave is bringing about despair among some who had thought they had seen light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, only to now fear it was an oncoming train.
One Twitter user reported having been excited to begin the vaccination process all those months ago. "Why?" the person continued. "Because I was told everything would go back to normal. But it won't." They pleaded, "Make it make sense."
It's not a purely online phenomenon. When I returned home for the holidays, a luxury in these times, I repeatedly heard people say some variation of, "Can you believe this is still happening a year later?"
For many, it is difficult and nerve-wracking. It's undoubtedly a major factor in why the RealClearPolitics polling average shows 62.3 percent of Americans see the country as being on the wrong track. Only 29.8 percent see it moving in the right direction. As bad as it is for the citizenry, it's potentially a mortal threat to Joe Biden's presidency.
Biden won in 2020 as the candidate of normalcy in a country riven by White House Twitter tantrums, riots and rising crime, political polarization, and a pandemic with no end in sight. It was the last crisis people most hoped he would solve: Exit polls showed Biden winning voters whose top issue was the coronavirus by 66 points.
All of the above problems continue to rage, but the persistence of the pandemic has the greatest potential to undermine public confidence in Biden's leadership. It remained an area of relative strength even as his job approval ratings dropped on other issues. Moreover, the spread of Omicron among the vaccinated is likely to deepen vaccine hesitancy while radicalizing the most COVID-conscious of Biden's base, making them cry out for untenable regulations to save them.
All is hardly lost. The latest developments may force a more judicious response to the pandemic on the left and, more importantly, among public health authorities. Whether that comes in time to save Biden and his party's razor-thin congressional majorities in an election year remains to be seen.