Depressingly, as the global coronavirus pandemic unfolded, President Trump took measures that helped it along: denying it existed; denying it was more serious than the seasonal flu; denying it was no longer contained; claiming it was a hoax perpetrated by his enemies in politics and the media. State and local leaders have been left on their own to decide what to do.
The result has been a macabre laboratory of federalism, where states decided whether or not to protect their citizens and economy from a clear and inevitable threat. The geography of the response has been sobering.
As I wrote in American Nations and further explored in its sequel, American Character, the fundamental philosophical divide between these regional cultures is over the question of how best to organize American society. Three large and important ones have cultures that see freedom’s path lying almost exclusively with individual liberty and personal sovereignty. Four other large ones prioritize the common good and the building of a free community, even if it requires sacrifices of individuals. Corona-19 proved a test of these values.