James Duesterberg in The Point:
Being neither alive nor dead, nor even simply inert, a virus makes a bad enemy. How do you confront it? “We are at war,” politicians keep saying. But unlike a political opponent, the viral enemy can’t be banished or killed, or even really defeated. A virus is a vector, a force that we can only amplify or disrupt.
What then does a viral pandemic have to do with politics? A few weeks ago, I agreed to write a column surveying the scene of the 2020 presidential election. Since then, the names Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have all but vanished from major newspapers, and Donald Trump appears now not as a politician, but as an emperor who is either clothed or not. All that talk about ideas vs. electability, about choosing between competing visions of the future—that’s done. Now we hear only about flattening the curve, immunizing the herd, turning around the Dow.
Politics, too, can be a vector, and whatever else happens, this pandemic seems likely to accelerate the trend toward the collapse of postwar internationalism, the fortification of borders, and the return of an atavistic politics, grounded in fear.