Of all the absurdities we have suffered in this country since Trump came down the escalator and announced he was running for president, none beats this: The refusal of millions of Republicans — not just a few stupid thousand, but millions — to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly half of Republicans told the Washington Post-ABC News poll they likely won’t get vaccinated, compared with only 6 percent of Democrats.
The Associated Press last month found — and Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday confirmed — that almost all recent deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. have been among the unvaccinated.
“If you look at the number of deaths, about 99.2 percent of them are unvaccinated,” Fauci said. “About 0.8 percent are vaccinated. No vaccine is perfect. But when you talk about the avoidability of hospitalization and death, it’s really sad and tragic that most all of these are avoidable and preventable.”
In the past, the anti-vaxxers were just poorly informed or distrustful of medicine and medical science generally. Now, resistance to the vaccine constitutes a political statement. It falls under the Republican credo: If Democrats are for it, we’re against it — even if we die.
There must be an edict handed down, generation to generation since the Civil War, in all the states of the Confederacy: Don’t ever fall in with the states of the Union, even if it means your schools will suck, your working conditions will be awful, your environment will stink and all your health indices will fall well below the national average.
And even if it means the coronavirus will keep killing your fellow citizens and slow your state’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
Look at the bottom eight states for vaccination rates; all but one are Trump states (Biden narrowly won Georgia):
44. West Virginia
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 37.46
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 36.83
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 36.31
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 35.35
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 35.31
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 34.52
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 32.9
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 29.89
Now look at the top eight states; they’re all Biden states:
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 65.98
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 62.09
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 61.92
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 61.14
5. Rhode Island
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 59.32
6. New Hampshire
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 56.69
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 56.55
8. New Jersey
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 55.7
The political/ideological divide over issues — immigration, racism, crime and law enforcement, abortion rights, foreign military intervention — are common and understandable. They have been heightened during the ongoing Trump tragedy. Culture wars — we’re used to all that, too. But when it comes to personal health, and the health of those around you, especially children, you’d think the vast majority of people — like 99% of us — would eschew politics. But we live in absurd times, with a major political party now a cult, with Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election embraced by his followers, with Republican leaders feeding fears about the COVID-19 vaccine, and with people refusing to heed advice that could save their lives.
How did we get here? Go back to the Reagan era and the tragically (criminally) slow response to the AIDS epidemic, followed by the Newt Gingrich era and the demonization of Clinton and Democrats, throw in the Republican resistance to Obama and Obamacare, add Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, add the Internet and social media, then Trump and QAnon et al — that’s a 40-year flood of strident partisanship juiced with the toxins of white supremacy, presidential lies and conspiracy theories about government, science and medicine. Many of us have avoided the flood or at least kept our heads above it. Others, however, swim in that stuff, no matter the risk of drowning.