(CNN) — In his victory speech after the 2020 election, Joe Biden said the following: “I promise to be a president who does not seek to divide, but to unify. Who does not see red and blue states, but a United States.”
However, within nine months of his presidency, the red states (as those whose electorate is majority Republican are known) and the blue states (those whose electorate is majority Democratic) have wide differences in what should be the least political of the The Issues: Covid-19 Vaccination Rates.
David Leonhardt, from The New York Times, calls it “red covid”:
“The political divide around vaccines is so great that almost all positively blue states now have a higher vaccination rate than almost all positively red states. (…) Because vaccines are so effective in preventing disease In severe cases, COVID deaths also show a partisan pattern. COVID remains a national crisis, but its worst forms are increasingly concentrated in red America. “
The new ones Gallup data offer strong figures to back up Leonhardt’s claim.
More than 9 out of 10 self-identified Democrats (92%) claim to have received at least one dose of one of the three covid-19 vaccines.
That number among Republicans? Only 56%.
It is a surprising fact that tells a very clear story: there are Republicans who are getting seriously ill, and even dying, as a kind of distorted political position.
How did we get here? There is no single person to blame, but in my opinion it is quite clear that former President Donald Trump and Fox News bear most of the responsibility.
Trump spent the first 16 months of the pandemic doing his best to downplay it. He insisted that the virus “was going to go away.” He openly despised the use of masks: On the day he announced the CDC guidance that people should wear masks indoors, Trump said he had no plans to do so. “I just don’t want to be doing it … I don’t know, somehow, sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute desk, the great Resolute Desk,” Trump explained. “I think wearing a mask while greeting presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens … I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself. I just don’t see it.”
Trump also struggled to turn the debate over the use of masks, and measures to mitigate COVID-19 more generally, into a debate about attempts by Democratic leaders to limit their freedoms. The confinement orders were an abrogation of your rights, as opposed to short-term attempts to slow the spread of the virus in the community. The masks were a babysitting government trying to tell you what to do. The respected experts, especially Dr. Anthony Fauci, were accomplices of the Democratic Party. In short, everything people, other than Donald Trump, told you about the virus was a lie.
(The fact that Trump was booed when he told a crowd earlier this year to get vaccinated says everything you need to know about the danger of fostering mistrust and feeding lies.)
Meanwhile, Fox News served as a kind of multiplier for the politicization of the virus. That charge was led by primetime hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, who tried to present the vaccine debate in terms of a restriction of liberty rather than a public health good. “We are not saying that the vaccine has no benefits, it may well be profoundly beneficial,” Carlson said over the summer, ignoring the myriad evidence that all three available covid-19 vaccines are not only safe, but incredibly effective in preventing serious illness and deaths from the virus. Carlson also regularly presents anecdotal evidence of a person, or people, with an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless that the vaccine is generally perfectly safe.
The result of all this misinformation and politicization of Covid-19 is overwhelming. The 12 states with the highest rate of cases per 100,000 people are led by Republican governors. The 13 states with the highest hospitalization rates per 100,000 residents are all led by Republican governors. The 15 states with the highest percentage of deaths per 100,000 residents are all led by Republican governors.
This is not complicated. Now we are not only divided by political lines. Our political divisions have created two completely different America: one in which the vast majority of people are vaccinated and hospitalizations and deaths are low, and another in which the coronavirus continues to ravage the population.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism