COVID-19 has killed more people than any war or public health crisis in American history, but the scale and grim human toll of the pandemic were not inevitable. Pandemic Politics examines how Donald Trump politicized COVID-19, shedding new light on how his administration tied the pandemic to the president’s political fate in an election year and chose partisanship over public health, with disastrous consequences for all of us.
Health is not an inherently polarizing issue, but the Trump administration’s partisan response to COVID-19 led ordinary citizens to prioritize what was good for their “team” rather than what was good for their country. Democrats, in turn, viewed the crisis as evidence of Trump’s indifference to public well-being. At a time when solidarity and bipartisan unity were sorely needed, Americans came to see the pandemic in partisan terms, adopting behaviors and attitudes that continue to divide us today. This book draws on a wealth of new data on public opinion to show how pandemic politics has touched all aspects of our lives—from the economy to race and immigration—and puts America’s COVID-19 response in global perspective.
An in-depth account of a uniquely American tragedy, Pandemic Politics reveals how the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic has profound and troubling implications for public health and the future of democracy itself.
Shana Kushner Gadarian is the Merle Goldberg Fabian Professor of Excellence in Citizenship and Critical Thinking at Syracuse University and the coauthor of Anxious Politics. Sara Wallace Goodman is professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of Citizenship in Hard Times. Thomas B. Pepinsky is the Walter F. LaFeber Professor of Government and Public Policy at Cornell University and the coauthor of Piety and Public Opinion.
"Readers will appreciate the care that went into this work as well as the depth of the authors’ findings, which highlight just how extensively partisanship shaped the public’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This book is destined to end up on the shelf of anyone interested in public health and public opinion."—Matthew S. Levendusky, Science
"A solid work of history attempting to assess one of the most historic events of the 21st century."—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review
“In elegant and accessible prose, Pandemic Politics delivers a sobering message. Relying on an impressive six-wave panel study, the authors convincingly show that polarized politics crippled the American response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone interested in understanding our flawed response to this health crisis should read this important book.”—Vincent L. Hutchings, University of Michigan
“In the future, when people are aiming to identify an objective source for what occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pandemic Politics should be at the top of the reading list. This book uses panel survey data to assess attitudes from a diverse group of Americans, often comparing outcomes to other countries. Importantly, this book not only grapples with COVID-19, but the multiple pandemics of systemic racism, police brutality, and political polarization.”—Rashawn Ray, University of Maryland
“This play-by-play of what life was like for Americans during the early 2020s should be on everyone’s bookshelf. Pandemic Politics is a stark reminder of the impact of COVID-19 and the long road to recovery.”—Lynn Vavreck, coauthor of The Bitter End: The 2020 Presidential Campaign and the Challenge to American Democracy