How Republicans Miscalculated on Vaccines

So here in the Fool Me state, covid cases have reached a six-month high. Four days ago, Gov. Do-Nothing Parson announced a vaccine lottery that will award $10,000 prizes to vaccinated residents.  Yeah, I signed up already. Other than that, I cannot tell that anything is being done at the state level to mitigate the surge. Considering that Missouri has recently been called the “epicenter” of the Delta surge, that lack of response is kind of horrifying. It’s too soon to tell if the lottery will make any difference, although I understand the rate of statewide vaccination has finally reached 40 percent.

This guy speaks for many.

At this point, vaccinated America is about ready to slam unvaccinated America into a box and padlock the lid.

I’m reading that there is a difference between the vaccine hesitant and the vaccine resistant. Many of the hesitant have heard lots of scare stories about the vaccines. Some have had covid and thought they were immune enough. For some, getting the vaccine was inconvenient or required time off work or making transportation arrangements. This group can often be persuaded to get the vaccine once their concerns are addressed.

The resisters are another matter. They are opposed to getting the vaccine for ideological reasons. That’s harder to address. Clearly, this group thinks that not getting vaccinated makes them “smart” or “own the libs.”

Josh Marshall has a thoughtful post up today that doesn’t seem to be behind a subscription firewall. He points out that the enormous majority of the demographic groups who vote are vaccinated now.

Shift our perspective in this way and you see that when you’re talking about the political nation, a big, verging on overwhelming majority are vaccinated. Among people over 65, the group that votes most consistently, 80% are vaccinated. Furthermore there is a lot of evidence that vaccination rates escalate with age. People in their forties are substantially more vaccinated than people in their twenties. So higher rates of vaccination align with propensity to vote.

The retirement living crowd may be conservative, but they grew up getting vaccinated. They remember polio and government vaccination programs. Even the most healthy of them are spending more and more time seeing doctors and getting scary medical procedures now.  A vaccine isn’t that much of a leap for them. And they are likely to have had friends who died of covid. Even in Missouri, about 74 percent of people 65 and over are fully vaccinated.

Josh Marshall concludes,

Most elected Republicans haven’t been explicitly anti-vaccination. Indeed, even before the last couple weeks many have made low volume statements saying they’ve been vaccinated and encouraging others to do so. But they’ve almost all participated in the effort to make vaccine resistance into a kind of freedom movement – banning government or private businesses from using vaccine passports, banning mask mandates, politicizing debates over school reopenings. As a party they’ve leaned into valorizing vaccine resistance and banning any private or governmental efforts to place the burden of the consequences of non-vaccination on those who choose not to be vaccinated.

They thought that would supercharge their already happy prospects for 2022 by riding an anti-vax or anti-vax mandate wave. And now they’re thinking they may have miscalculated.

I like that phrase “leaned into valorizing vaccine resistance.” That’s exactly it. The implicit message coming from Republican leaders in these parts is that if you’re really smart and thinking for yourself, you don’t get vaccinated. That’s what sheep and libtards do. If you do get sick, you’ll be fine, so what’s the deal?

But, yes, I think Republicans miscalculated big time on this one. That’s why some of them, recently, have changed their tunes a bit. But the really stupid ones are not likely to figure this out.

Charlotte Klein writes at Vanity Fair that the Republican reckoning on covid vaccines has finally arrived.

“Even conservative leaders now are having a hard time figuring out how to rein in what had primarily been a propaganda campaign, and they are now realizing their constituencies are particularly vulnerable,” Eric Ward, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the AP. Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida whose 2022 reelection campaign merch includes beer koozies that say “Don’t Fauci My Florida,” recently noted that nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations are among unvaccinated people and affirmed that “these vaccines are saving lives.” There’s been an overall shift in some corners of Fox News—a network that has for months amplified misinformation and politicized the shots.

By now, though, it may be too little, too late. “Once you are opposed, it is very hard to change that position. And that’s what’s happening right now,” Republican pollster Frank Luntz told the AP.

My guess is that even if Trump himself came out and asked his culties to be vaccinated, most of them wouldn’t do it. Not that I expect Trump to do any such thing. See also Jonathan Allen:

Elijah Haahr, a former Missouri House speaker, said there’s an asymmetry to the voting public. For those who have chosen not to get vaccinated, he said, “that will be their No. 1 issue, and they will vote against the party that wants to force them to vaccinate.”

That’s probably true, which is why I expect a lot of the Republicans will continue to treat any government pandemic mitigation as government overreach and a Communist plot. But these same people are assuming that pro-vaccine voters will have moved on to other issues, so that anti-vaxx politicians won’t pay a price. But that seems to be less and less true.

But Kennedy said Democrats will still be fired up, because skepticism about vaccines is part of what her party’s voters see as a pattern of harmful disinformation and misinformation coming from GOP officials and their allies in conservative media.

“Our people are tying it to all of these other things,” Kennedy said. “As happy as people are that we got Trump out of office, the threat is so real and still in people’s face.”

For all voters, the urgency may have everything to do with where the fight against Covid-19 stands in the fall of 2022.

“It depends on the progress of the pandemic between now and the midterm,” said Michael Steel, a GOP strategist.

I bet Republicans are really, really hoping the pandemic just disappears. Like Trump promised it would.

8 thoughts on “How Republicans Miscalculated on Vaccines

  1. These are the same "people" who, when Obama was POTUS (FSM, I STILL LOVE SAYING/WRITING THAT!!!!! 🙂  ), were ready to call out as a pandemic any case worse than the sniffles!

    Several different Swine Flu's were gonna kill us all!

    And remember when the Ebola Virus was coming from Africa to help Obama kill all the white people?  "'Cept the purtiest white ladies, of course!"

    But now when you need 'em to get vaccinated from a real pandemic, they turn into Bobby Kennedy Jr's League of Anti-Autism/Anti-Vaxx Karens!


    And if you're one of 'em, here's my musical message to you:


  2. IMO, the CDC should establish recommended triage for any hospitals that are overwhelmed. Regular medical emergencies (stroke – heart attack, accident, etc) first in sequence of life-threatening severity. Vaxed Covid patients next – because they took reasonable precautions as advised by medical professionals. LAST, Non-vaxed Covid patients in order of severity. When the hospital hits capacity, non-vaxed Covid patients are discharged to admit heart-attack, stroke, and other emergencies. 

    Depending on the spread and where you live, the deniers will create the situation where the medical system is overwhelmed. Here's personal responsibility for 'ya. If your stupidity created the mess, you go to the bottom of the list. 

  3. We've been watching a political cult so willing to see Biden/Democrats/not radical insurrectionist Republicans fail that it will put its own constituents, and everyone else, at risk.  And its constituents will willingly put themselves at risk for the greater cause. 

  4. I am 67.i remember polio amd i remember the entire community lined up happy to get the vaccine. I remember smallpox and the vaccinations. I remember no one wet their pants if they needed a shot to travel abroad. I also know i had to get vaxed all over ahain as an adult getting my nursing license. 

    I cannot suffer theses panties woded fools. I am out of compassion. Why are we still going through this but for the idiots?

  5. Thought wise, what is Republican, has gone through a series of mutations.  I contend that the Republican Party in the Eisenhower era and beyond would have been pro-vax.  They had Conservatives at that time, but this was way before the influx of neo-cons, libertarians, and white supremacists.  Is not this the anti-vaxxer (omega mutation) of the party's recent libertarian nature?  Rand Paul seems to be it's primary modern standard bearer, and continues to battle Dr. Fauci as if he represents the essence of evil on earth.

    So much of what goes on of late stinks of Libertarianism.  From isolationism to tiny government, privatization almost everything, and the proliferation of tax avoidance/tax fraud schemes.  So too this aberration is now doing a rapid political about face.  Tolerance for the rhetoric of, and problems caused by, the unvaccinated is rapidly waning.  So too, tolerance for libertarian drivel, in other areas needs similar treatment.  Libertarianism, (or whatever other aka's it is going by of late) still remains the politics of the "wet behind the ears".  Call it what it is, the Party of Peter Pan Pathetic Politics.  

    What were those silly Republicans thinking when they took this outlandish political stance in the first place?  


    • Philosophically, Vax-Resistance is "libertarian", but philosophy is not the driving force behind most of the Vax-Resistors.  (Real Libertarians read Ayn Rand, which requires an enormous amount of patience & tolerance for long-winded drivel; Trumpists read Tweets).

      IMO, this is really a long-term result of the GOP's Culture Wars.  The GOP's core priority – Tax Cuts for the Rich – is inherently unpopular, so they chose to build their (post-Nixon) party on Outrage.  It worked great for decades, but to keep it going, they had to keep ratcheting up the outrage.  They were able to harness the Tea Party, but wound up giving those crazies more power inside the GOP.  Each election, they had to dog-whistle louder; and then they were shocked when Trump "stole" their base by braying all the quiet stuff at the top of his lungs.

      Yes, the GOP's flirtation (or hook-ups?) with Libertarians took a similar arc.  To attract those young, smart, not-quite-yet-rich Randians, the GOP slowly got more radical & open about the inhuman, unchristian indifference toward People which is the rotten "heart" of  Libertarianism.  But Libertarianism is inherently unpopular; most Humans instinctively care about [at least some] other people.  If anything, there's some reason to hope that the GOP's anti-science position on Covid will alienate some of it's Randian voters – at least among Doctors!

  6. The Republicans have a pattern of stirring up ignorant outrage about imaginary topics which then takes on a life of its own and can continue for many decades. See for example the case of the POW/MIA flag, the origin of which can be traced to a cynical PR decision by the Department of Defense in the first Nixon Administration.

    COVID denial and vaccine resistance might be an enduring thing.

  7. The 'vaccine hesitant' talk about their concerns about the safety of the vaccine while taking drags on their cigarettes and swilling their cocktails.


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