WASHINGTON Just months after praising COVID-19 vaccines as the product of former President’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ and American ingenuity, Republicans embraced a vocal anti-vaccine minority whose macabre preference for illness and death coincidentally harms the economy and the Democratic president’s current endorsement numbers.
Polls show that Joe Biden’s new private-sector vaccine mandate is widely popular with Americans – the majority of whom have already fully vaccinated.
But Republicans disproportionately count for those who haven’t been vaccinated even more among those who say they will absolutely not get the vaccine. More and more Republican elected officials are changing their point of view to conform.
“The number one factor if you want to get in the Republican Party today is agreeing with the people who are dying,” said Stuart Stevens, a Republican consultant who helped George W. Bush win the White House on two separate occasions and then was a major contributor to Mitt. Romney’s 2012 campaign.
He said GOP officials know their words result in the needless deaths of many voters, but they also believe that the increase in COVID cases will slow the economic rebound and hurt Democrats in the midterm elections of 2022.
“I don’t think it’s any different from when Mitch McConnell said after Barack Obama was elected that his number one goal was to make sure Barack Obama was a president for one term,” Stevens said, referring to the wish of the Republican leader of the Senate in 2010..
Biden was visibly frustrated last week as he spoke to the nation about his latest measures to increase the vaccination rate amid a wave of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients clogging hospitals. He criticized Republican governors for actively hampering efforts to control the disease, which, after declining in the spring with increased vaccination rates, began to rise with the new, more transmissible delta strain. “If these governors don’t help us beat the pandemic, I will use my power as president to sideline them. “
A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the administration understands that a percentage of Americans will not be receptive to a message from Biden but may be open to persuasion by others , such as employers who require either a full vaccination or frequent coronavirus testing. .
The official cited Tyson Foods, which saw its percentage of employees vaccinated drop from 45% to 72% in a single month after its announcement in August that the company would require vaccinations. United Airlines also saw its numbers drop from 59% to 79% after its announcement.
A Goldman Sachs analysis on Monday predicted that Biden’s efforts would help economic recovery. “The net impact on employment in the medium term is likely to be positive, as higher full vaccination rates will reduce the spread of the virus, which should stimulate labor demand in high-contact services and the community. labor market participation among some of the 3 million people who are currently not working due to problems with the spread of the virus.
Republican officials have argued that governments have no right to require Americans to get vaccinated as a condition of employment – even though public and private schools across the country have demanded a long list of vaccines since decades, and though many of those same officials praised the administration of former President Donald Trump for pushing so hard on a vaccine.
On January 9, just three days after Trump’s ultimate effort to overthrow American democracy failed in the deadly Capitol Hill insurgency, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and two other GOP governors attended a summit on vaccines at the White House to highlight the administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” success in developing COVID-19 vaccines in less than a year.
Now DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, as well as Trump himself, are vocal opponents of Biden’s vaccine mandates, and sometimes even give voice to the arguments disseminated by vaccine opponents.
Trump, in a recent interview, claimed he would not get a callback once he was available, suggesting it was a ploy by the drug companies to make more money. He has also repeatedly attacked the vaccine mandate in fundraising emails. “He has just mandated the Covid vaccine for 80 MILLION Americans. The last time I checked, we live in a FREE country, ”read a message sent on Friday. “First they wanted to impose MASKS, and now they impose VACCINES – can you believe it? “
Lee called Biden’s private sector tenure “cynical” and “a takeover.” Abbott called it an “assault on private business.”
And DeSantis, which aggressively pushed Florida’s elderly population to get vaccinated late last year and early this year, has instead focused in recent months on monoclonal antibodies for those who contract the disease. . In one such event on Monday, DeSantis stood next to a Gainesville utility worker as he falsely claimed from behind a desk bearing the official Florida seal that vaccines alter your RNA and people don’t. should not get them.
DeSantis, which once tried to punish schools that require students to wear masks, is now going after Florida municipalities that impose a vaccination warrant with fines of $ 5,000 per incident. He said on Tuesday that he had not heard what the city employee was saying, that he knew vaccines were effective in preventing serious illnesses and that he hoped people would choose to be vaccinated.
Stevens was not impressed. “Ron DeSantis kills people, and he thinks it helps him in the Republican primary,” he said.
DeSantis’ office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Tuesday.
Joe Walsh, a former GOP congressman and longtime radio host, said the majority of opponents of the vaccine he talks about base their views on various conspiracy theories – from the belief that the vaccine would magnetize their bodies are afraid that they will insert a microchip. – but that 5% to 10% refuse to be vaccinated precisely because it is Biden who is pushing the effort.
Erick Erickson, a conservative talk radio host who nonetheless encourages his audiences to get vaccinated, said he also hears all the conspiracy theories. “I continue to have to explain to people individually why they should do this. The amount of bullshit people are willing to believe is amazing.
Stevens said Republican leaders have a responsibility to accept the absurd claims of their own supporters, not to follow them for political gain. “What you have here are people who are not bad but who are ambitious and weak, and the result is bad. This is why the Republican Party must be reduced to ashes. It is a threat to the country.
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