The resignation of Dr. Deborah Birx following revelations that she violated government recommendations on social distancing is the latest example of people in high places disregarding the rules they make for the rest of us. From the beginning of the pandemic, when social distancing rules were given the force of law, some politicians — including those who imposed them — have chosen not to follow them.
Hypocrisy in high office is nothing new. But when government officials break COVID rules, they are not just showing the country that they are personally dishonest; they are giving a doubtful public the impression that the rules are not as important as they say.
Faced with declining trust across institutions, high-ranking scofflaws make the problem worse when they give people tangible proof that they are not to be trusted. That makes it harder to convince people to sacrifice to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
It also causes people to lose trust in