But the Fox News evening lineup not only shapes right-wing opinion; it reflects it. And it can’t be good that a substantial portion of the right has turned hard against science and expertise, as if knowledge and experience were somehow disqualifying. Many on the right seem prepared to extend the culture war to matters of public health, with health experts cast as “deep state” operatives sabotaging the president.
In that type of conflict, what does resistance look like? Well, we have seen semiautomatic weapons in the Michigan Capitol. We have seen some go defiantly maskless. Perhaps the next step will be proudly uncovered coughing. Or the patriotic licking of escalator handrails. Or the unwashed hand, raised in protest. Past a certain point, stupidity becomes lethal.
This is the strangest of populist causes. American populism of the Frank Capra variety is not only anti-elitist; it is directed toward helping the vulnerable, the little guy. But precipitous openings — without an adequate system of testing and contact tracing in place — will bring predictable suffering and death to the sick and elderly. Their welfare should be an objective of genuine populism. Try to imagine a Capra movie in which grandparents are sacrificed for the greater good. Mr. Potter would have to be the hero.