The initial official denial of COVID as a serious public health threat began a road to unimaginable consequences. Former President Trump who sees admission of mistakes as a weakness doubled down on the notion that the Coronavirus was no more serious than a common cold and would disappear with the warming of Spring.
The politicization of COVID has led to more than 600,000 dead and in part, resulted in the Republican loss of the United States Senate and the presidency. However, that did not cause a turn-around in thinking as the loss was explained by something called the Big Lie of a stolen election that the Republican political leadership is using to frame a comeback.
The notion of the Coronavirus as a global tool designed to take away personal and political freedom was added to numerous other conspiracy theories. That together with the Big Lie, became the calling card of “voting reforms” in red states.
Nonetheless, lately the Biden administration has increased the attacks on COVID denial and that has caused an element of reality to creep into the political calculations for 2022. When Biden charged the misinformation by the media and others with “killing people,” it began to open a window to Republicans thinking that they themselves were killing their own by preaching abstinence from the Coronavirus vaccines.
This reminds me of the story of Alfred or Alfred Packer, the famous Colorado cannibal of the late 19th Century. He was convicted of killing and eating his 5 companions, Israel Swan, George Noon, Frank Miller, James Humphreys and Wilson Bell “who were murdered...early in the year 1874 while pioneering the mineral resources of the San Juan country.” His name is on several buildings and there are many stories, plays, songs and books about his exploits. Some of the funniest stories include the words of a judge who supposedly accused Packer of killing and eating 5 of the 7 Democrats in Hinsdale County which drastically depleted the supply of people of that political persuasion.
Evidently, Republican leaders are coming to a similar conclusion as the Party is already getting smaller at the rate of a million votes a year and COVID has become the disease of the unvaccinated that prominently includes their members. That subtraction by addition is becoming an existential concern as most of the people in intensive care, particularly in the South and Midwest, are their voters.
That cold reality may be irreversible because so much has already been invested in convincing Trump Conservatives that initiatives to eradicate the disease have the sinister purpose of taking away their freedoms. Despite this reality, there are stories of people being processed for intensive care and the ventilator asking or begging for the vaccine when it is already too late.
Throughout our history there have been disasters and emergencies with the focus more on the extent of the threat and then how we have dealt with it. In this century I think of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession and Deep Water Horizon. Up to now, the political considerations have been on our preparedness and how we went about mitigating the results. COVID-19 is the first time that the threat itself is politicized as if the Coronavirus was a Democratic or Republican disease.
Acting upon created alternative realities has been the mainstay of the previous Republican administration. Perhaps this was a way of feeding the political passion of people that feel less valued.
Nevertheless, there are more than 600,000 dead. What matters is that there is a cure.