by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Donald Trump sometimes calls the coronavirus “the invisible enemy.” Occasionally he comes up with an evocative phrase. And for me it evokes the way the disease harms the society that contends with it. …
… Every kind of social event is harmed by the fear of COVID. Funerals are limited. As many young couples found out, weddings are canceled, masked, delayed, or turn out to be smaller celebrations than they would otherwise be. The out-of-the-ordinary hygienic measures, social distancing, and the news itself stoke a certain kind of vulnerability and paranoia, one that easily shifts into other areas of life. Instead of blotting out America’s culture-war politics, the pandemic has intensified them.
And it may not be through with us yet.
We fight and the parties retreat into their encampments, even about COVID itself. Lockdown protesters were on the right. Social-distance shaming comes from the left. Donald Trump wants schools to be open. Joe Biden wants a national mask mandate, and says we haven’t yet adequately contended with the disease.
The chattering classes and their audiences are internalizing that the more trouble COVID causes, the better for Joe Biden. And the more that COVID enters the rearview mirror, the better for Donald Trump.
All this would be cause enough for concern. But it could get much worse. An early flu season — something that begins spreading in late September or October in a state such as Minnesota or Wisconsin — could bring us to a boiling point. …
… Instead of adjudicating the spring reaction of Donald Trump to COVID, we may soon be entering a period when the day-to-day numbers of the disease seem to hold not just the fate of our household arrangements for the next few months, but also the threat of lockdowns, and an adverse election result.