Covid Anti-Vaxxers And The Republican Party
[guest post by Dana]
The writer of this piece suggests that the formation of an anti-vaxx party is currently underway:
The COVID-19 vaccines are saving lives, but watch Newsmax, and you’d never be able to tell. “I’m not a doctor,” host Rob Schmitt recently warned, before adding, “I feel like a vaccination in a weird way is just generally kind of going against nature.” Perhaps “there’s just an ebb and flow to life where something’s supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people, and that’s just kind of the way evolution goes. Vaccines kind of stand in the way of that.”
There’s nothing inherently conservative about anti-vaccine sentiment. The false claim that childhood vaccines cause autism attracted adherents of various political stripes, from typical right-wingers to crunchy liberals. COVID, however, has become an intensely partisan affair, with the pandemic doubling as a referendum on the Trump presidency. On the right, listening to Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci on vaccines means rejecting Donald Trump, which is heresy.
Newsmax host suggests vaccines are “against nature,” and some diseases are “supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people”https://t.co/g1sIdQ949b pic.twitter.com/TgQNFLKAav
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) July 12, 2021
“Certain amount of people”? Does he mean poor people in undeveloped nations where vaccines are less available and people have less access to them? Those people?? I’m assuming that, in the name of consistency, Schmitt also believes that vaccines against Diptheria, measles, mumps, and smallpox, which have saved untold millions from certain death, are also “against nature,” right??
Anyway, when considering the insanity at CPAC this past weekend, it’s easy to see that, while perhaps not an anti-vaxx party per se is being formed, the dominant message of today’s Republican Party is one that diminishes efforts being made to get more people vaccinated as well as the Covid-19 vaccine itself:
[A]udience members even applauded low national vaccination rates. “They were hoping, the government was hoping, that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated. And it isn’t happening,” a panelist bragged. Also at CPAC, Madison Cawthorn told a right-wing news site that a door-to-door vaccine push would build “mechanisms” that could someday infringe on dearly held personal liberties. “Think about what those mechanisms could be used for. They could then go door-to-door to take your guns. They could go door-to-door to take your Bibles,” he claimed, without evidence.
The Republican Party will not be taken seriously as long as people like this take front and center in the party. And unfortunately, because a majority of Republicans in office view Trump as the leader of the party, this type of nuttery is now
becoming the dominant force in the GOP. You don’t believe me? Consider these popuplar Republican firebrands:
Marjorie Taylor Greene has repeatedly linked the Biden administration’s pandemic guidance to Nazi practices, as though the unvaccinated and unmasked are at risk of genocide. If colleges require vaccinations, they’re enforcing “medical apartheid,” Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk claimed. Now Republicans in several states have either introduced or passed legislation prohibiting “discrimination” on the basis of vaccination status, hampering businesses, schools, and employers from implementing common-sense pandemic-safety requirements. On Fox News, Tucker Carlson recently discouraged college students from getting the vaccine altogether. “It’s not good for them. There’s a risk involved, much higher than of COVID, but colleges are forcing them anyway,” he complained.
While reports have repeatedly shown that the young and poor, and those without a college education are more inclined to forego the vaccine, the writer reminds us that often the refusal of the vaccine is, at the heart of it, part of a greater effort to “own the libs”:
The GOP wants to own the libs to death — who dies doesn’t matter. The priority is fealty to Trump above all.
And yet, ironically, Trump and his wife have been vaccinated. How does that work?
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently looked at the Red/Blue divide in vaccination rates:
While the share of the total population that is fully vaccinated has increased for both county groups, it has increased faster in counties that voted for Biden, resulting in a widening gap. Three months ago, as of April 22, the average vaccination rate in counties that voted for Trump was 20.6% compared to 22.8% in Biden counties, yielding a relatively small gap of 2.2 percentage points. By May 11, the gap had increased to 6.5% and by July 6, 11.7%, with the average vaccination rate in Trump counties at 35% compared to 46.7% in Biden counties.
Although there has been an overall significant slow-down in COVID-19 vaccination rates in the U.S., these findings show a widening divide of communities at risk for COVID-19 along partisan lines. A key component of any effort to boost vaccination rates among Republicans will be identifying the right messengers…there is a hardcore group of vaccine resisters who are disproportionately Republican and will be difficult to move.