This past week, I had two different people tell me essentially the same story. Both had workers come to their houses to make repairs. The homeowners asked the men if they were vaccinated. In both cases, the workers said, “No, we’re Republicans.” That’s a remarkable and telling statement. 

Since the earliest days of COVID, the conservative media ecosystem and a whole of lot Republican officials have been downplaying the seriousness of the virus and objecting to any means to mitigate its spread. They told us that the disease was no worse than the flu. Donald Trump told us repeatedly that it would just go away. They continue to argue against the efficacy of masks. And they’ve said all kinds of things about the vaccine that has, finally, rendered the disease no more dangerous than the flu for those will take the shot. 

Just this weekend, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert was touting the benefits of alternatives to the disease. He named debunked treatments like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, the animal de-wormer that’s become all the rage among the anti-vaxxer crowd. The CDC reports a surge in reports of poisoning related to ivermectin. Feed stores that supply the drug for farm animals are selling out. The people who don’t trust the CDC, their doctors, or science believe talk radio show hosts and people like Louie Gohmert for their medical advice. That’s who they should consult when they get COVID instead of taking up ICU beds for other people who need them. 

Experts tell us now that more than 100,000 people could die of COVID before the end of the year. Given the effectiveness of the vaccines, these deaths are all preventable. More than 90% of the deaths are among unvaccinated people and one researcher says, “We can save 50,000 lives simply by wearing masks.” 

Instead of trying to save people or stop the virus, though, Republicans and their media cheering section will rail against mask mandates. They’ll warn of potential shut downs. And they won’t admit whether they’ve been vaccinated or not because that might make them look like Democrats. It’s the stupidest protest I’ve seen in my life. 

I don’t get the vehemence with which the populists rage against masks. The vast majority of studies have shown that masks reduce the spread of the COVID. Even if you doubt that science, why make such a big deal about something that might make such a big difference at such a low cost? 

They point to government mandates that stifle their freedom, but if they would just wear masks, we wouldn’t need mandates. They rail against vaccine passports and companies that require vaccines for work or businesses that require them for entry. These same people got vaccinated and vaccinated their kids for everything from small pox to measles and never made a peep. 

You would think that all of the ant-vaxxers getting COVID and dying would make Republicans rethink their position, but it doesn’t. They have so inoculated their base against reality and the truth that these poor people don’t believe anybody except the people who have been conning them for decades. It’s hard to tell which Republicans are true believers and which ones are grifters taking advantage of ignorance. I’m not sure it matters, but what’s clear is that COVID is a Republican.

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