Since the beginning of the pandemic, conservatives have been demanding that we re-open schools. Teachers and school personnel have been demanding a vaccine before they go back into the classroom. Finally, we have the vaccine so both sides can get their way. 

Last week, Governor Roy Cooper announced that teachers and child care workers can begin getting vaccinated next week. Other essential workers will be eligible beginning March 10. So now, conservatives are now complaining that teachers are skipping line. I’m beginning to believe that conservatives either don’t like teachers or are really more concerned about complaining about Roy Cooper than getting children back in schools. Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Ever since Republicans took control of the legislature, they’ve been bashing teachers. They argued that teachers have it too good because they get summers off. They get too much pay. Their benefits are too generous. Consequently, they’ve treated teachers like the enemy, offering meager raises and often casting blame on them for struggling schools. So it’s not surprising that conservatives resent teachers getting the vaccine earlier than others but it’s also disingenuous to also demand that in-person schools begin immediately without making teachers a priority.

And if they’ve bashed teachers, conservatives have been whaling on Roy Cooper since the pandemic began. In their reckoning of the situation, Cooper has recklessly closed businesses and schools, stripped people’s freedom by issuing a mask mandate, and is now coddling the teachers they so obviously resent. They also accuse of Cooper of being less than transparent despite his almost daily press briefings and whine that the bloggers posing as journalists don’t get to ask enough questions.

In fact, Cooper has done a better job than many governors of keeping us safe. While conservatives complained when South Carolina and Georgia opened up earlier than us, our infection, hospitalization, and death rates are far lower than our neighbors. In other words, Cooper’s prudent and cautious approach saved lives. The public also supports him.

I am one who wants our schools to open as quickly as possible. I also believe we need to do it safely and getting teachers vaccinated as soon as possible is part of that equation. We should do what’s necessary to get children back into classrooms.

If conservatives spent as much time trying to educate their base about the realities of this pandemic as they did complaining about Cooper or bashing teachers, we could get out this mess a lot faster. I’m not finding the myriad of stories in conservative outlets telling their audiences to take the disease seriously. I’m not finding the articles debunking Trump’s lies about the virus being a hoax or the virus just mysteriously going away. Instead of urging their readers and listeners to social distance and wear masks, they questioned their effectiveness. At the very least, they could have said, “Hey, it certainly can’t hurt.” 

But they didn’t. Scoring political points was more important than keeping people safe or reducing the spread of the virus. They have hindered  the opening of business and schools and they did their audiences a profound disservice. They mislead them about the pandemic, either out of ignorance or cynicism, and are now trying to undermine the outcome they demanded.  They don’t really want a solution. They just want something to complain about.

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