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Republican refusal to vaccinate is not a political strategy



Republican refusal to vaccinate is not a political strategy

Photo: Jeenah Moon / REUTERS

Never attribute to malice, says Hanlon’s razor, which is sufficiently explained by stupidity. Despite this imperative, many liberals have suggested that the Republican Party’s subversion of the pandemic response is a conspiracy to undermine Biden’s presidency.

“The right wing’s strategy on COVID-19 vaccines, as planned and executed by the Republican Party and Fox News, was a [sic] as simple as it is ominous: sabotaging the introduction of President Joe Biden by sacrificing the bodies of their own supporters, ”argues Amanda Marcotte. “The GOP plan was to sabotage herd immunity and blame the Democrats for it,” argues Brian Beutler. Jamelle Bouie puts forward this hypothesis, without fully endorsing it, and admits that Republicans’ rejection of vaccines may be sincere, but also “an incredibly cynical and nihilistic strategy”.

No doubt Republicans are pleased that the Delta Wave is damaging Biden’s polls, and for many, their glee may even outweigh their humanitarian concerns. But the idea that they tampered with that result purposely contradicts almost all of the evidence we have.

The Republican stance on the coronavirus has not fundamentally changed since Biden’s election. Since the virus emerged, the party has consistently denied or downplayed its seriousness and has spoken out against all containment measures: masking, vaccines, closing public and private spaces.

The pressure to embrace this denial has come from both above (Donald Trump’s belief that the pandemic was a hoax to sabotage the economy and prevent his re-election) and below (the Republican base has fueled distrust of science I analyzed the denial of the right as a result of their paranoid rejection of science in a July 2020 story. And while Trump was hoping a vaccine would end the pandemic, the anti-Vax movement was already mobilizing on the right and gaining supporters among Republican elected officials.

If Republicans had a partisan motive back then, it was the belief that opening up the economy and public health burden would help President Trump. It seems difficult to understand how they would suddenly decide that doing the same thing would harm President Biden.

Plus, it’s hard to explain why Republicans support this strategy by governors who would pay an immense political price to cooperate. Ron DeSantis used to enjoy a promising brand as a Republican governor who broke restrictions while still recording average public health results.

But his state has become such a basket case that conservative experts (at least briefly) paused their incessant demands for apologies from the media on him. DeSantis has instigated unpopular battles with local school authorities and cruise lines trying to serve the public without killing people.

Meanwhile, Republican vaccination skepticism is killing a non-trivial number of Republican voters, including a tragic procession of middle-level party officials. This month alone, three unvaccinated conservative talk show hosts have died of COVID. For a movement so obsessed with demographic replacement that it sees Afghan refugees as a conspiracy to anchor democratic majorities, it is strange that they deliberately kill their own voters.

In light of this MAGA incident, Christopher Ingraham accuses the Republicans of “pursuing the most breathtakingly cynical political strategy I have seen in my life and reveals an amazing level of disdain for the true believers in the party who end their lives for.” surrender the thing ”. . “

But why should we consider it a “political strategy” or even a strategy? The Republican COVID denial began as a sort of strategy aimed at justifying steps Trump believed would help him get re-elected, but has evolved into arbitrary, self-harming gestures of cultural resentment. After initially convinced that COVID is not serious, enough Republicans have now invested in vaccine skepticism as most Republican politicians are reluctant to alienate their own voters.

There have been times in the past when the cynicism of the Republican elites and grassroots paranoia have worked together. The Tea Party rebellion was like this: Republican leaders fueled their grassroots fury which they used to justify contracting fiscal and monetary measures that hampered Obama’s recovery.

But what temporary damage they do to Biden seems to stand alongside the damage they themselves absorb. In the current crisis, the Republican leaders do not control the paranoia of their base, but are controlled by it.

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Analysis and commentary on the latest political news from New York columnist Jonathan Chait.

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