I understand the temptation to argue that the coronavirus crisis proves the national-populist case. But, if you are self-aware, it is always at least slightly embarrassing to hold up the latest event you did not foresee as proof of the need to implement an agenda you originally supported for other reasons. Continetti cautions us toward a certain humility and awareness that the trends toward the national-populist view that we now see among ambitious GOP Senators and staffers were long in the making, and that geopolitics have played a role in creating them. He’s right.
America and other nations have been in a scramble for masks and protective medical gear over the past few weeks. Much of this is manufactured in plants in China that have been idled since January. Regulations in the West impede spinning up factories of our own to produce what we need. But I cannot find anything predating this crisis in which national populists single out single-use medical gear as one of the products America must make for itself. In fact, good pandemic planning, which is a perennial but often-overlooked feature of governments that do war games, would have cautioned us not to dominate the trade in these goods, but to have large and fresh stockpiles for precisely this kind of foreseeable event.