Article content continued
“And yet because the Trump administration refused to get on top of it early on, it ended up doing the most extreme kind of call for shutdowns, along with many governors, by March and April, and that caused a lot of people out there in the heartlands of America, particularly in the non-metropolitan areas that are the base of the increasingly radicalized American Republican party to think, ‘well, they’re telling me that all the businesses that my neighbours and I work in or go to have to close down and maybe go under, and it’s not even something that’s happening that much in my community.’”
The pandemic arrived slowly in medium cities and smaller towns, and when it did arrive, it often arrived in a nursing home or prison, or some other context that made it seem as if it the virus could somehow be contained, Skocpol says.
Trump’s base is middle-aged workers or middle-income men who may respond differently to the crisis than their wives or mothers, Skocpal adds. In the final month of the campaign, when Trump said “I beat this crazy, horrible, China virus,” that he was in “great shape,” that he was “immune” — when he made a show of whipping off his mask, it was like a “tribal political statement,” says psychiatrist Dr. Allen Frances, “a red badge of courage.”
The most interesting paradox? “The reddest and most loyal Trump states are precisely the ones that have the highest rates of new cases, death and suffering,” Frances, a professor emeritus and former chair of psychiatry at Duke University said in an email to National Post.