Commentary

GOP should demand all members get vaccinated (and show proof…something like a …what’s the word?.. passport)

August 5, 2021 4:30 am

A poster that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued to help fight the spread of COVID (Courtesy CDC).

As Republicans in Congress turned red faced demanding to know why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have the audacity to change messaging last week, COVID-19 continued its upward trend in Montana.

Instead of insisting on masking up and more vaccinations, state and local leaders kept reading from the gospel of personal responsibility and undercutting efforts to achieve herd immunity by stopping short of calling for vaccination, and reminding them that the reports of an adverse reaction were approximately 1 in 5 million.

Statistically speaking, your chances of dying in a plane crash are about 1 in 200,000. Your chances of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime are surprisingly high at 1 in 15,300. Getting murdered? About 1 in 20,000. And dying of choking runs about 1 in every 2,600 people.

Put another way: You’re 20 times more likely to die in a plane crash than die from getting a vaccine. And even those numbers aren’t doing the vaccine any favors because most of the deaths reported via the CDC were people who died in a period of time after getting the vaccine, but those same numbers didn’t confirm that the cause of death was due to the COVID vaccine. In other words, some of those people may have died from other things, like heart attack or stroke.

I don’t hear Republicans wanting to ban airplanes, food or declaring a lightning pandemic.

That sounds silly.

So why doesn’t it sound silly when Republicans seem insistent on discrediting vaccines, masking and berating the CDC?

The Republicans have rightly and collectively been concerned about the economic effects of shuttering the country, worried that stopping jobs, commerce and manufacturing will lead to pain much greater than the havoc COVID can wreak. To be sure, that pain is real as people search for jobs, get evicted and struggle to make up the financial hole that was dug during the past year-and-a-half.

And yet there’s a simple way to almost guarantee that a shutdown will never happen again: Mask up and get vaccinated. If everyone who could get vaccinated would, then the disease may cease and herd immunity would be achieved.

Like you, I hate masks. I hate masks so much that I wear them so that hopefully we can fully, completely and permanently quit using them. Leaders have reminded us that masking isn’t just for our protection, it’s a way we can help protect those we love. For a nation that is quick to tout its Christian bonafides, it seems like the phrase “doing unto others” is something that should be emblazoned on masks. If our science alone isn’t enough to command us to take precautions out of love for our fellow humans, then shouldn’t our religion be sufficient? Doing it for the least of these, as Jesus said, should mean using a mask so that others don’t die a lingering, suffering death trying to gasp for air.

If we love our local businesses, it seems like wearing a mask and the momentary discomfort of a needle are small prices to pay when our community members have jobs and lives tied to the success of their business.

Last week, President Joe Biden said that the COVID pandemic was really an epidemic of the unvaccinated – that 99 percent of people dying of COVID were unvaccinated. Forbes recently reported that 40 percent of Republicans are still unvaccinated.

Right now, that means the Republicans – the same self-styled party of life – seems content to let 40 percent of its party risk death.  If for no other reason than sheer self preservation, it seems like the GOP leaders should have been cajoling and pleading with their members to get the vaccine. If the disease continues to run rampant among the unvaccinated with increasing higher mortality rates in successive mutations, then it means there’ll be a lot fewer Republican voters in the upcoming elections.

For a party so hellbent on conspiracy theories of election fraud, it seems like the biggest upcoming election failure will have nothing to do with their policies, positions and politics, but there will be as many as 40 percent fewer Republican voters. And, it’s not going to take a political scientist to run the numbers on what elections would flip if there were even 10 percent fewer Republicans.

It makes me wonder: Are Republicans more pro-life or more pro-afterlife?

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Darrell Ehrlick
Darrell Ehrlick

Darrell Ehrlick is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Montanan, after leading his native state’s largest paper, The Billings Gazette. He is an award-winning journalist, author, historian and teacher, whose career has taken him to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, and Wyoming.

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