Coronavirus and the future of American politics

Jonah Goldberg asks in a National Review Online column how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect American politics.

Stage 2 is the “COVID-19 confirms my priors” period.

For many Democrats, the roaring economy of eight weeks ago was the perfect time to push for canceling student debt, establishing a $15-per-hour minimum wage, implementing Medicare for All, etc. A runaway pandemic and the start of a massive shutdown of the economy only made it more obvious that these “priors” were absolutely necessary.

For many Republicans, the booming economy was the perfect time to push for tax cuts, immigration restrictions (including a border wall), a new Cold War orientation toward China, and a declaration of war on the media for being mean to the president. And lo and behold, as the coronavirus crisis shaped up, they too believed their ideas were all the more justified. …

… What Stage 3 of the coronavirus crisis will look like remains murky. Andrew Yang’s quest for universal cash payments to Americans seemed quixotic just weeks ago. Now it looks like the bedrock of a new policy agenda. The traditional Republican resistance to interference in corporate decision-making is being worn away by the hour, and once swept aside it seems unlikely to return in nearly as robust a form. A new consensus may be quickly forming that government should have a much bigger say in how supply chains are structured, regardless of the corporate bottom line. It’s almost certain that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry’s dependence on China for basic medicinal ingredients will not survive this pandemic. …

… Perhaps oddly, I find myself wondering — and worrying — about Stage 4. How will things look when this is all over?

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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