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Klein: Donald Trump Is the Reason for America’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response—Noted

I see many people blaming America's catastrophic failure to cope with the 2019 coronavirus plague on "polarization”. But Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy have no more desire than Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to see the plague burn itself through the entire country over the remainder of this year, killing millions and impoverishing America.

Both sets would like to stomp the virus—as the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan appear to have done, and as Canada appears to be doing. Both sets would like to see a rapid return to full employment and a booming economy. The blame for the catastrophic failure lies with Trump and the combination of grifters and incompetents with whom he surrounds himself.

Mitch McConnell’s and Kevin McCarthy’s liability is second order: their conclusion that it would have been too risky to ease him out of office long ago, or to have eased him out of candidacy:

Ezra Klein: Donald Trump Is the Reason for America’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response https://www.vox.com/2020/7/1/21308809/covid-19-coronavirus-2020-trump-election-polls-polarization: ‘Eight percent of Democrats, but 31 percent of Republicans, would attend a crowded party.... Partisanship was the single biggest driver of attitudes toward the coronavirus.... Now America’s coronavirus rate is on the rise, racing into uncharted territory even as Europe, Canada, and Japan hold new case rates to about 100 per million residents, or under. This chart is a stark reminder that the outbreak we’re experiencing isn’t an inevitability of the disease, but a staggering failure of policy and public health compliance.... Structural polarization stems from the core incentives of American politics. Elections are zero-sum affairs, and voters reward the majority party for successful, popular governance. The minority party’s default tendency to oppose the majority party’s signature initiatives is an example of structural polarization..... Discretionary polarization reflects the idiosyncratic decisions leaders make. Take face masks, for example. In an alternative universe, where President Mitt Romney is in the final year of his second term, would there be a politicized culture war over face masks? I doubt it...

...President Romney would be wearing a mask and urging others to do the same, just as Sen. Romney, and many of his colleagues, are doing now....

There is nothing intrinsic to the structure of American politics, or the composition of the Republican Party, that made Trump turn against masks. If anything, Trump’s opposition is an act against self-interest. A successful Covid-19 response would improve Trump’s reelection prospects. Widespread mask-wearing is key to a successful Covid-19 response. That Trump refused to wear a mask while touring a factory that makes masks reflects Trumpism, not polarization. “I think we have to place this one pretty squarely on presidential leadership,” says political theorist Danielle Allen, head of Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics. “Polarization hasn’t helped, but polarization, in this instance, has been driven by presidential leadership”...

.#noted #2020-07-10

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