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What's Wrong With Republicans?

Susan Estrich on

Two stories I've been thinking about make clear that Republicans have problems Donald Trump's departure has not begun to solve. The problems are not with the Democrats. They are with science.

The first was the finding in the latest NPR/"PBS NewsHour"/Marist poll that some 49% of Republican men and 47% of Trump supporters say they will not choose to be vaccinated if a vaccine is available to them.

For all the talk of Blacks being unwilling to be vaccinated because of misplaced distrust of government, the percentages of Blacks and whites who said they would choose to be vaccinated were nearly the same.

Vaccine refusal is nearly twice as high among Republican men than it is among Blacks.

Throw that stereotype away. Maybe the public health efforts are working. Maybe Republicans aren't listening.

The availability of a vaccine to protect us from a virus that has killed over half a million of our friends and family members is not a product of a government conspiracy; it is not a product of government at all, except in terms of the billions of dollars the Trump administration invested in the effort to develop a vaccine at "Warp Speed." That had never been done before for a virus, much less in a year's time.

 

It is a scientific miracle. So why do Republicans have such a problem with it? Why has support for Trump now translated, for some half of his supporters, into distrust for lifesaving science? How can a party like this succeed in the 21st century, a century already marked by scientific miracles and disasters?

And what happens when these unvaccinated Republicans get sick and die? It will only take a prominent few. I'm the first to admit that the media is waiting for that to happen, to tag the Republicans as the modern Flat Earth Society, with a punitive undertone.

Not getting vaccinated, I should add, is not only the wrong choice, scientifically speaking; it is a selfish one. We need to create herd immunity to protect those who, for medical reasons, cannot be vaccinated. It's not a matter of assuming the risk for yourself, and it's not simply about the public resources that will be spent to treat and hopefully save vaccine deniers. Will we do unto others, or not?

The second story from this week is the final confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health. Levine is the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the Senate for a position in any administration.

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