When Joe Biden announced broad federal coronavirus vaccination requirements for 100 million Americans, the White House braced itself for objections from Republican opponents.
But being this 2021, the reaction of the right it has gone far beyond mere political debate into the realm of inflammatory language that analysts fear could translate into direct and violent action.
In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster swore to fight “At the gates of hell to protect the freedom and livelihood of all the people of South Carolina.” Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves tweeted: “The vaccine itself saves lives, but this unconstitutional measure is terrifying.” JD Vance, a conservative running for a Senate seat in Ohio, warned: “Only massive civil disobedience will save us from the naked authoritarianism of Joe Biden.”
And the right-wing media went further, casually tossing terms like “authoritarian,” “fascist,” “totalitarian,” and “tyrannical” to characterize the term of the US president. That all employers with more than 100 Workers demand that their employees get vaccinated or tested. for the virus weekly.
The rhetoric is considered dangerous in a feverish political atmosphere that saw a deadly insurrection at the United States Capitol in Washington on January 6 and plans for another extremist protest at the same location on Saturday. This week the US Capitol Police. arrested a man in a truck that was armed with multiple knives, a bayonet and a machete near the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
Kurt Bardella, An adviser to the Democratic Congressional campaign committee said: “After what we saw in this country on January 6, ‘civil disobedience’ is a keyword for violence and acts of terror when it comes to the Republican Party. So many in this party are trying to cover up the events of January 6, have referred to those behind them as ‘patriots’ and have even suggested that those who have been jailed for their crimes should be released.
“The only conclusion that can be drawn from their continuous shouts of protest over what they call ‘civil disobedience’ is that it is a call for more violence, more chaos, more destruction, and it solidifies the reality that the Republican Party is an organization. national terrorist.“
The battle for vaccine mandates is the latest development in a corrosive culture war over efforts to stop the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, which now causes 150,000 cases and 1,500 deaths a day. This politicization had led to the burning of masks, physical altercations in schools and even the boo of former President Donald Trump when he advocated vaccines to his own supporters.
Biden’s intervention last week was seen as a turning point where he replaced the carrot with the stick and eventually went tough on the unvaccinated unnecessarily prolonging the pandemic. He said: “We have been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost us all. “
The White House is confident it has the majority of the public on its side. Three in five Americans support new mandates for private businesses and federal government workers, according to a Axios / Ipsos survey this week. Media reports suggest that many employers quietly welcome the coverage of Biden’s move to ensure their staff are vaccinated.
But that did not prevent a furious and unhinged casting of the president as dictator. Matt Walsh, a podcast host, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson: “We had to pick this bag of rotten oatmeal to get a real tyrant … Maybe this, in the end, is a good thing, in the sense that it is a moment”. for choosing for Americans … Are we going to comply and accept this, or are we finally going to stand up and say, ‘You know what, it’s not going to happen’? “
Fox News published online headlines such as “BIDEN IS AN AUTHORITARY” and “BIDEN DECLARES WAR ON MILLIONS OF AMERICANS.” His website has since published an article on the resignation of a lieutenant colonel from the army in protest at the Covid-19 vaccine mandate and what he described as the “Marxist takeover of the armed forces.”
Three Republican governors designated as presidential candidates in 2024 followed suit. Kristi Noem from South Dakota said she was preparing to go to court. Greg Abbott of Texas called it a “private business assault.” Ron DeSantis from Florida said, “I don’t think people should lose their jobs over this issue, and we will fight it.”
More than 208 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but about 80 million remain unvaccinated. There are now roughly 300% more new daily Covid-19 infections, roughly two and a half times hospitalizations and nearly twice as many deaths than at the same time last year.
In that context Elaine Kamarck, A leading member of the think tank at the Brookings Institution in Washington finds the Republican position puzzling and puzzling. “It is dangerous for others and it is dangerous for themselves,” he said. “How many right-wing talk show hosts have already died of Covid? In fact, it is quite inexplicable. I can certainly see that I care about taxes or freedom or going to war or all the other things the state does, but giving vaccinations?
“This is insane, frankly. There is no other word for that than crazy. Madmen have taken over the Republican Party. All these people who are doing this, their children, have received vaccinations against polio, measles, mumps, rubella. All babies in the United States receive their vaccinations and that is required. It is compulsory to go to school. So this is pretty crazy. “
There is little sign of Biden backing down. On a visit to a school in Washington last week, he accused Republican governors of being “arrogant” about the health of young Americans, and when asked about those who would present legal challenges, he replied, “Go ahead.”
And it’s unclear whether the sound and fury from the right will affect more than one section of Trump’s base. David Frum, former speechwriter and special assistant to President George W Bush, tweeted: “How is this massive civil disobedience campaign against vaccine mandates going? Only 2% of HR professionals surveyed say they have noticed instances where all employees quit rather than get vaccinated. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism