“. . . But what strikes me, when looking at America’s extraordinary pandemic failure, is how top-down it all was.
Those anti-lockdown demonstrations weren’t spontaneous, grass-roots affairs. Many were organized and coordinated by conservative political activists, some with close ties to the Trump campaign, and financed in part by right-wing billionaires.
And the rush to reopen in Sunbelt states was less a response to popular demand than a case of Republican governors following Trump’s lead.
The main driving force behind reopening, as far as I can tell, was the administration’s desire to have big job gains leading into November, so that it could do what it knew how to do — boast about economic success. Actually dealing with the pandemic just wasn’t Trump’s kind of thing.
In that case, however, why has Trump refused to wear a face mask or encourage others to do so? After all, wider use of masks would be one way to limit infections without shutting down the economy.
Well, Trump’s vanity — his belief that wearing a mask would make him look silly, or mess up his makeup, or something — has surely played a role. But it’s also true that masks remind people that we haven’t controlled the coronavirus — and Trump wants people to forget that awkward fact.
Reopening did lead to large job increases in May and June, as around a third of the workers laid off as a result of the pandemic were rehired. But Trump’s job approval and electoral prospects just kept sliding.
And even in purely economic terms the rush to reopen is probably failing. The last official employment number was a snapshot from the second week of June; a variety of short–term indicators suggest that growth slowed or even went into reverse soon afterward, especially in states where Covid-19 cases are spiking.
In any case, the point is that America’s defeat at the hands of the coronavirus didn’t happen because victory was impossible. Nor was it because we as a nation were incapable of responding. No, we lost because Trump and those around him decided that it was in their political interests to let the virus run wild.” -30- (end of article)