Politics and the Pandemic: Why I Think Paul Krugman Is Wrong

Politics and the Pandemic: Why I Think Paul Krugman Is Wrong

 Krugman has a piece in the New York Times today that offers an explanation for why Republicans oppose every measure—vaccination, masking, limits on indoor gathering—that could reverse the pandemic.  He says it’s because the Democrats support them and that Biden would take credit for reduced caseloads, hospitalizations and deaths.  Since owning the libs is the guiding philosophy of Republican politicians and their minions, such actions have to be fought at all costs.

The problem is that pandemic denial is a feature of the far right worldwide.  You can find it in England, France, Germany, Poland, Brazil and points between.  Explanations based on US political dynamics are insufficient (although they might be correct in a more limited way).

Here is my candidate: The pandemic gives the lie to the rigid individualism that draws hard lines around each person’s body and mind—the “you are the king in your own castle” idea.  It’s the bedrock of such notions as personal responsibility being the sole determinant of life events, unrestricted individual autonomy and the belief that collective action is an assault on “freedom”.  Actually, we are interconnected in a myriad of ways, culturally, economically and, as the coronavirus demonstrates, physiologically.  We are really a “we” whether we like it or not.

Far right politics is based on hard line individualism.  So is a strand of alternative health, which promotes the notion that it is within the power of each person to “choose” to be free of disease by following one or another program.  If the pandemic refutes these simplistic ideas, their response is denial.

Cognitive dissonance.