by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Few events have accelerated Western institutional decay as the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s been Dr. Anthony Fauci’s foot on the gas.
As the pandemic sunsets on the United States, the nation stands far weaker, rocked by a public health emergency driving up debt and division amid a polarizing presidential election while political elites capitalized on the virus for ulterior ends. Legacy media got more irresponsible, big tech got more unfair, and half the population comfortably shut down their neighbors’ livelihoods in seeking an impossible life with zero risk, as if the virus had the potential to wipe out the human race.
At the center of this crisis stood National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Fauci, who became a prominent voice in the first days of the pandemic while serving in the Trump White House. Standing at the press lectern each day to appear on evening television, Fauci took on the appearance of the trusted hometown physician.
At 79 years old and five feet seven inches with grey hair and glasses, Fauci’s voice became a familiar sound imbued with decades of experience and credibility. His early eagerness to contradict a president with his own love for the camera also made Fauci an attractive figure to a hostile press excited at the opportunity to make him “America’s Doctor.”
Americans don’t trust their institutions like they used to, and one can hardly blame them after the prior 15 months. Their leaders failed them time and time again when the stakes were high. …
… Among the most visible episodes to deteriorate institutional faith were public health officials’ excusal of protests against police while banishing religious gatherings throughout the summer. Fauci participated, claiming he couldn’t condemn the mass demonstrations but demanded what now would have been year-long stay-home orders.