From the WSJ’s Notable & Quotable: “The Biden Popular Front Is Doomed to Unravel,” by Christopher Caldwell, New Republic, Nov. 23:
The problem for Trump’s reelection was not that his response was too anti-lockdown and loosey-goosey. On the contrary. It was that the lockdowns imposed were draconian enough to disfigure the economy.
Covid-19 . . . subjected the country to the most plutocrat-enriching trimester in its history.
- Plumbers and waiters were suddenly without incomes.
- Uber rides dropped 80 percent.
- The economy shrank at an annualized rate of 5 percent in the first quarter of 2020 and by an astonishing 31.4 percent in the second.
But the giant Internet retailers boomed. By late summer, Jeff Bezos had added $90 billion to his wealth on the year. The country rebounded with 33.1 percent growth (again, annualized) in the third quarter.
The good news was published by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis on the Thursday before the election to much fanfare from Trump, but this looked more like through-the-looking-glass surrealism than trustworthy economic policy.
And besides, by then much of the country had already voted.
That is the second way Covid-19 brought about Trump’s loss: It rendered irresistible the pressure to broaden access to ballots and pioneer new forms of voting that on election night would cut Democrats’ way.