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McKay Coppins, author of The Wilderness and a staff writer at The Atlantic, explores how some Americans resist social distancing and other coronavirus preventative behavior in the name of political beliefs. Compliance and its lack, according to Coppins, seems to follow Democratic or Republican loyalties, respectively. He interviews people from both parties to determine the path of this latest culture war. This lively, informative Atlantic piece provides an intriguing, if troubling, illustration of how almost anything in American life can be bent to political ends.


Social distancing has, in certain places, become an expression of political beliefs.

Geoff Frost, a 43-year-old Democrat, noticed the commencement of cultural warfare related to the coronavirus at his Atlanta, Georgia country club golf course. To enforce social distancing, the club closed its restaurant, removed water bottles and limited carts to one per person. Though club members of opposing political views had always been cordial with one another, the new policies fomented division.

Frost and his friends went to the driving range. They used hand sanitizer and kept six feet between them. Older Republican members ostentatiously shook hands and talked at high volume, casting coronavirus as a “stupid hoax.” They crammed into golf carts two by two. Frost wanted to urge the men to be more cautious, but, he realized, “It’s become a political thing.”

At first, Americans seem to embrace social distancing. Schools shut down in all states, regardless of their political majority. President Donald Trump made light of the pandemic and then changed his views. Those who echo him in the media followed ...

About the Author

Author of The Wilderness, McKay Coppins is an Atlantic staff writer.

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