Republicans Face the Wrath of Vaccinated Voters

David Atkins is one of my favorite political pundits. He writes,

Since Biden’s election, the Republican strategy has been simple: sabotage the Biden administration’s goal of vaccine-based herd immunity, thereby damaging the economy and forcing more unpopular measures to control the spread of the Delta variant. Either pandemic-exhausted voters will rebel at the prospect of a new round of controls and mask mandates, or the virus will overload ICUs and kill a million Americans by the midterms–which Republicans will then blame on Biden and Democrats (as Trump just did yesterday.)

But there is reason to believe this strategy may be not only sociopathic but also too clever by half. Most Americans have now been vaccinated, and it is abundantly clear that the Delta variant is primarily a plague of the unvaccinated. The unvaccinated least capable of persuasion are primarily base Republicans, and partisanship is one of the single strongest predictors of vaccination status.

And vaccinated Americans are getting fed up with being put at risk and potentially forced into further restrictive measures by the politically hostile and belligerently unvaccinated. Republicans (and their useful tools like Green Greenwald) have been caterwauling about the prospect of vaccine mandates and passports, soullessly comparing them to the Nazi Holocaust. Many red states have pre-emptively banned any public or private measures to implement restrictions based on vaccination status.

Atkins reminds us that in the early days of the pandemic, when New York and other cities were being slammed, a “response” team tasked with distribution of federal resources to the most hard-hit areas was nixed by Jared Kushner. The areas most being hard hit were Democratic party strongholds, and Kushner made a political calculation that the pandemic could be “their problem.” The states were on their own.

Likewise, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans opposed sending aid/stimulus money to states, calling such funds “blue state bailouts.” The talking point was that this pandemic thing was a blue state problem, and the virtuous and problem-free red states didn’t need the money. Those blue states should just declare bankruptcy (heh).

Well, guess what? By March 2021 the red states already were having a worse time of it, as the blue states were running up their vaccination rates. The differences between red and blue sections of the country are even more pronounced now.

The point is that we know Republicans will stoop to using death and hardship to score political points and hurt their opponents. They’ve tried it already.

Once the Biden Administration took ownership of vaccine distribution (and thank goodness; if Jared Kushner had been put in charge, we’d still be waiting), the next Republican step was to crank up opposition to the vaccines and to any means to encourage people to get vaccines. For example, Republicans stirred up faux outrage over measures such as vaccine passports that could be used to keep the unvaccinated out of theaters, stadiums, restaurants, cruise ships, etc. Atkins notes that “Many red states have pre-emptively banned any public or private measures to implement restrictions based on vaccination status.”

But guess what? Most adult Americans have been vaccinated, and most adult Americans think vaccine mandates and other measures to keep the unvaccinated from spreading covid are really good ideas.

That wasn’t true at first, but polling shows that as time goes on, more Americans want somebody to mandate vaccines and to penalize the unvaccinated in some manner. Because people are pissed.

See also 45% of Republicans support a universal vaccine mandate, as do a strong majority of Americans, a new poll shows, from Business Insider; Vaccinated people are ready for normalcy — and angry at the unvaccinated getting in their way at WaPo; Some vaccinated Americans have lost their patience with those refusing the shot as Covid-19 cases surge and mandates return at CNN.

And see In this rural Missouri county, the vaccination rate is low and opposition high in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This is about Washington County, which I have mentioned here before. The Washington County line is a mile or so from where I am sitting as I write this. The vaccination rate in Washington County is 23 precent, the article says. I liked this part:

Mark Stevens, 46, was over there, selling sweet corn, watermelons, green beans and tomatoes out of the bed of his pickup. He wouldn’t walk across the parking lot to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“You’d have to drag me dead or alive,” said Stevens, who’s 6 feet 2 inches, weighs 340 pounds and throws around a lot of other numbers he’s gleaned from Newsmax, a conservative cable network and website. Stevens said he watches less of Fox News since it started leaning too far left.

Typical. And, of course, Washington County is solid red Trump country. I’ve been to that farmer’s market, btw.  I won’t be going there this summer.

Atkins thinks that Republicans could be hit with a backlash in the midterms.

If around 70 percent of Americans become vaccinated, partisanship becomes inextricably linked with vaccination status, and 65-70 percent of Americans who actively want to see vaccine mandates and passports implemented are either sickened by an endemic Delta variant or forced by circumstance to limit their enjoyment of life because of a toxic pro-virus movement primarily associated with the Republican Party, that could lead to serious electoral consequences. If Covid does end up felling over one million Americans, conservatives can try to place the blame on Biden and Democrats–but it’s not at all clear that voters will buy that when the variant is doing the most devastation among belligerently unvaccinated Republicans in red areas. And unlike many other issues that favor Democrats electorally, this one is deeply personal and rage-inducing for the vaccinated. …

… The path to House and Senate majorities in 2022 still run through purple suburban districts and states with a balance of urban and rural populations. It is difficult to see how Republicans will succeed if they are associated with a white evangelical anti-vax movement putting 70 percent of Americans directly into harm’s way. Whatever advantage they seek from sabotaging the Biden administration’s public health and economic response may wind up costing them more than they gain–not only in real human lives, but in seats in Congress as well.

Gerrymandering could still help the GOP take back the House. All the Washington Counties in the U.S. will remain red in the foreseeable future.

The Republicans’ problem here is that it’s going to be damn hard for them to pivot to supporting vaccines and other mitigation policies after they’d done such a good job of making vaccine refusal the mark of tribal loyalty. Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis learned that the hard way about a week ago.

But as DeSantis encourages vaccinations — he said “vaccines are saving lives” — he is facing a backlash from the anti-vaccination wing of his political base. It’s the same group that praised him and helped thrust him onto the national stage for his hands-off approach to the virus. DeSantis, with 2024 presidential ambitions, has to walk the line between keeping his conservative base satisfied and keeping his state from becoming more of a disease hot spot.

“Don’t let political correctness get in the way of health choices,” former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said recently of DeSantis’ comments, speaking on “The Right Side with Doug Billings,” a conservative radio host and podcaster.

Another conservative radio host, Stew Peters, last week called DeSantis a “sellout” and suggested the governor was taking bribes, though didn’t specify from whom.

See also Florida reports highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic at CBS News from, um, today. Will this cost the GOP the Florida senior vote?

Finally, see The Anti-vaccine Con Job Is Becoming Untenable by Brooke Harrington at The Atlantic. Harrington is a sociology professor at Dartmouth who explains the sociology of cons.

Many of the people refusing safe, effective vaccination amid a deadly pandemic are enmeshed in a very distinctive type of relationship that sociologists have been studying for more than 70 years: the con job. Con artists gain social or financial advantage by convincing their marks to believe highly dubious claims—and to block out all information to the contrary. …

…To outsiders, the social dynamics of the con appear peculiar and irrational. Those caught up in it can seem self-destructive and, frankly, clueless. But to sociologists, including me, who study fraud, such behaviors obey a predictable logic.

The seminal text in the field—Erving Goffman’s 1952 essay “On Cooling the Mark Out”—observes that all targets of con artists eventually come to understand that they have been defrauded, yet they almost never complain or report the crime to authorities. Why? Because, Goffman argues, admitting that one has been conned is so deeply shameful that marks experience it as a kind of social death.

Mr. Stevens of Washington County, with his sweet corn and watermelons, is unlikely to ever admit he’s been conned. But if the Republican politicians who count on his vote get too “soft” on vaccine refusal, how will that affect his voting enthusiasm next year? Republicans have given themselves a very tiny needle to thread here. And will urban and suburban voters be sufficiently pissed off to turn out in big numbers and overrule the rural areas? That probably won’t make a difference one way or another in House races, but it could impact next year’s election for a new U.S. senator.


9 thoughts on “Republicans Face the Wrath of Vaccinated Voters

  1. Unlike the Republican Party of my youth (the '50s and '60s), the current iteration has proven itself to be composed of ignorant boobs. I think it really was driven home to me by the GOP's treatment of the FBI.

    As a general rule, the Bureau follows the book. It's a pretty damned severe book when it comes to the initiation of investigations and the safeguards that are employed. The Republican characterization of FBI agents as rogue partisans out to get Donald Trump and further the ascension of Hillary Clinton (someone most line-level agents personally have no use for) was clearly not just playacting. They actually believed the crap they were saying. And Republicans clearly no longer have the vaguest idea of what the men and women of the Bureau do and how they do it. Nothing the Republicans said about the Bureau has borne the slightest relationship to reality.

    Nor was the GOP anti-science. Like any politicians, they could, and would, twist some facts to suit their agendas. But they didn't reside in the cloud cuckoo land that is their current address.

    Atkins is right about the sociopathy. But what is perhaps more terrifying is the sheer ignorance on display.   

  2. We are in an odd game that's scored by caskets. Kinda like golf, the high score loses. At the time the vaccines were cleared by FDA we were approaching 600,000 fatalities. No one kept score by political affiliation, but let's say we started in Jan-Feb of this year even at 300,000 dead on each side. 

    Only one team is getting points now. The ICU's Covid patients are 99% un-vaccinated. The virus doesn't care about politics – Biden hasn't discriminated in the distribution or charged anyone. The un-vaccinated have changed the rules of the game so that ONLY THEY CAN LOSE. 

    We're poised in Florida, if the doubling rate continues, to crush the medical system. Critically ill patients will overwhelm the capacity of hospitals. This will be "inconvenient" to some critical non-Covid patients who will die when the system is overwhelmed. Like if you go into cardiac arrest and there's a delay in responding. So yes, there will be collateral damage but if Florida starts scoring upwards of 300 Covid deaths per day, it's gonna be tough for Trump to blame Biden. Or for DeSantis to run.

    As they've done in the past, the GOP thought they could muddy the waters about who the victims are. The death certificates won't list the deceased by party affiliation. The virus IS sorting with incredible efficiency the vaccinated and the un-vaccinated.

    Responding to a Trumpster on FB who said I'm living in fear, I responded,

    I'm not living in fear – I got the vaccine. I'm only wearing a mask when/where it's requested even though I may be a carrier of Covid and asymptomatic. The only persons I put at risk by spreading Covid are Covid deniers. Testing their belief in invincibility on them is poetic justice. Don't do anything – please.

    I don't want anyone else to die of Covid. But I'm trying to bring these idiots to the realization, they are the control group in a deadly experiment. They're playing on the train tracks thinking they are going to piss me off and force me into drastic action.

    I'm saying, "You kids are a pain in the ass. Just do what you're doing." At some point in time, some will realize (after a few of them have been turned to jelly) that I'm not going to engage and I'm not at risk. 

    There's a really twisted expectation they have that it's my job to save them from their folly. We need to aggressively keep score in the game they can only lose. Keep score on ICU bed capacity, fatalities, the rate of spread. We should remind them that if the courts uphold Jim Crow, it may only be a break-even when you consider the GOP fatalities that the Democrats aren't matching.

    If anyone wants to point out, I'm not a nice person, I agree.

  3. RepubliKKKLANS:  You just keep being you!

    (And this way, before too long, there'll be less of "all y'all" morons to stop our nation's progress).


    • I want liberal principles to become policy, but not by killing off conservatives. I won't indulge in moral hair-splitting by pointing out that it's their own choice.

      I don't believe in federal medical mandates. You can't strap someone down and inject a foreign substance in their body. The question becomes how to convince idiots to do the right thing, and do it in large numbers in the shortest time possible. 

      "Owning the libs" is the top priority for these people. If they think rising Covid numbers hurt Biden and aggravate us, the rubes really don't care if they kill themselves off (until they are in the hospital.) IMO, the key is harnessing their hatred. 

      "Drive up the numbers," we say. "You will kill nine of you for every one of us, so let's play that game." And point out, Trump is vaccinated – his wife and kids are vaccinated. All Fox employees are vaccinated. We've put the facts out there – the vaccine continues to be available. The quickest way to get large numbers to reverse course is to tell them – this is how the Dems win in 2022. 

      • Medical mandates are sometimes necessary. Not necessarily federal, though I think at the very least the Commerce Clause would be a basis for justification. But under Supreme Court precedent, to say nothing of common sense, states have the absolute right to act in the interest of public health and impose vaccination mandates. 

        I know you're not talking about the law, but the above needed to be said. Otherwise, no, forcibly strapping people down and jabbing them is not the way to go if it can be avoided. But I think they are losing this argument anyway. Past all the brainwashing and cultural insanity, a choice between life and death is as stark and clear as it gets. In an odd, obscene way, COVID is the knife that can cut through all the fantastical paranoia that Trump has planted, watered and fed. It is an ultimate fact that can't be spun. You can't point to a dead body and tell people it's a liberal conspiracy or the product of suspect elites. In these circumstances, it could be you, or your wife, or your mother. It can't be explained away.

        The problem with constructing an alternate reality is that actual reality can knock it down in a New York minute. As horrifying as it is, COVID could be the cure.  

    • The survival of the fittest seems to be coming into play.  Here the species seems to be ridding itself of those who have acquired the poor judgement meme or gene.  It is fairly established science that personality traits are heritable.  The existence of the poor judgement gene is still speculative however.

      Fortunately the R gene does not run very strong in my family from what data I have collected.


  4. No rational American can vote Republican anymore. Treason Trump turned conservatives into a neocommunist-fascist GQP cult.

    Communism is forcing businesses to serve anti-vaxxers, making women slaves to forced birth, trying insurrection and sore loser audits to overturn elections, attacking free speech by banning academic theories, enacting Jim Crow voter suppression like criminalizing how voters get refreshments, controlling how parents and teachers raise trans kids, and denying climate science, COVID science, and vaccine science. 

    Communism is Treason Trump saluting North Korea's generals and writing love letters to Kim Jong, helping right wing media bash capital police, paying $200,000 to the China Communist Party while evading US taxes, destroying the agriculture free market with an anti-capitalist trade war, destroying the economy with coronavirus lies, and 2)  then shoveling trillions in welfare to corporate farms, big banks, and rich megachurches. 

    Trump's radical right extremists commieservatives offer only fear, hate, paranoia, anger, insurrection, and negativity. #VoteBlue


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