Three-word slogans, starting with a verb, are the currency of the populist. “Take back control” and “Build that wall” served the Anglo-American wing of that movement handsomely in 2016. Leaders become verbose in office — courtiers, those patient listeners, encourage bad habits — but one of Donald Trump’s best-performing tweets of late honours the format. “OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!” howled the US president, to 400,000 retweets in 24 hours.

The sentiment, you will notice, is the opposite of authoritarian. But then so was his first response to Covid-19: the slowness to close things, to encourage or even to respect mask-wearing. And so is the White House line on fiscal relief. Larry Kudlow, his economic adviser, worries about “disincentives” to work. Whatever spirit infuses that comment, it is not heavy-handed paternalism.

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