Don’t live in a Republican state

Jonathan Chait notes that it’s been difficult to get Trump to take the virus seriously. He’s not the only one; Republicans elsewhere are brushing it off as a mere case of the sniffles.

Republican governors in several states have downplayed the virus, either refusing to enforce social-distancing measures or even overruling local officials who attempt to do so. A new study finds that the single factor that best explains the speed of state-level reaction is its governor’s partisan identity. “States with Republican governors and Republican electorates delayed each social distancing measure by an average of 2.70 days,” the authors find, “a far larger effect than any other factor, including state income per capita, the percentage of neighboring states with mandates, or even confirmed cases in state.”

So medical science is a libbrul conspiracy?

Having a television-addled president with the memory and long-term planning capabilities of a fruit fly is deeply unhelpful. But there is more behind Trump’s intermittent disregard for the virus’s danger than simple Trumpiness. As is often the case when analyzing any of the horrors of the Trump era, Trump’s coronavirus response combines his idiosyncratic personality disorders with ingrained pathologies of the conservative movement.

Two weeks ago, Richard Epstein, one of the movement’s most prestigious intellectuals, wrote a contrarian analysis of the pandemic. Epstein argued that conventional models were dramatically overstating the pandemic risk, and predicted the coronavirus would ultimately claim a mere 500 American lives…

It was obvious almost immediately that Epstein horribly botched his projection. (The American death toll is already several times higher than he forecast, and the Trump administration’s current, most optimistic prediction forecasts some 400 times as many deaths.) In an interview with Isaac Chotiner, Epstein reveals himself as hopelessly out of his depth. He repeatedly claims the coronavirus is bound to weaken as it spreads, a claim he does not substantiate, and which is contradicted by all (real) experts. He confidently asserts that Bill Gates has endorsed his bottom-line conclusion, which is the opposite of the truth. Epstein’s model turns out to have been essentially made up out of thin air.

Maybe that’s what attracts Republicans – the freedom to just make shit up.

The skepticism has run up and down the food chain of right-wing discourse. The National Enquirer has hawked fake coronavirus cures. The Federalist published a column by a retired dermatologist urging readers to hold coronavirus parties to contract the disease intentionally, because it worked on chicken pox.

Now they’re arguing that the success of steps taken to contain the virus shows that there’s no need to contain the virus.

It is literally as if your mo[ther] warned you you’d get wet if you didn’t carry an umbrella, made you carry an umbrella, and then you claimed that the fact that you stayed dry under it disproved her prediction.

For anybody who has closely followed the world of conservative ideas for the last few decades, it would come as little surprise to see such simple errors undergirding the conclusions of even the most esteemed minds the movement has to offer. Conservatism has built an alternative-fact universe, in which pseudo-experts can confidently explain why tax cuts will increase revenue, Obamacare will fail to increase health-insurance coverage, greenhouse-gas emissions will not warm the planet, and on and on.

It’s libertarianism. Science is not the boss of me! Too bad the left is just as bad. “A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman!”

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