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Motivations

Have you seen the Dow today? It’s down about 900 points. That’s because there is a global concern that the Covid delta variant is going to slam the not quite recovered economy. You know, slowing down shipping, shipping containers, manufacturing, new cars, all that stuff. Who knows, maybe the food supply will take a hit this time. Don’t we rely on poor people from poor countries to do the farm labor?

So anyway, I was wondering about what motivates the vaccine refusenik as well and I’ve heard a couple different answers. Frank Luntz says they are getting a consistent message from their news sources that go like this:

1.) Covid has been blown out of all proportion by the Democrats. It’s not as bad as they say and healthy people aren’t going to get sick.

2.) The vaccine is unapproved. This is a technicality. The vaccines have been approved on an emergency use authorization and they had the required data for approval. The mRNA has the fewest moving parts and confers pretty good protection. The j&j vaccine is older technology and uses an adenovirus that requires more quality control and surveillance for averse reactions but, in general, this argument is just silly. Billions of doses have been delivered and the vast majority of recipients have had zero issues.

3.) Those of us who want to end Covid lockdowns and issues, are not respecting the opinions of the refuseniks. Well, yeah, this is true. It’s because these opinions are uninformed and pointless and lead to the worst aspects of the covid pandemic being repeated again and again. We want it to stop. But they have a knee jerk, almost robotic response whenever we bring up the vaccination, almost like the response has been buried in their subconscious just waiting for the right cue to vomit the deflecting “you don’t respect me!” thing. It’s the kind of thing Steve Hassan and Frank Luntz know all too well.

It’s very tiresome.

The rest of us wonder how do they benefit from any of them playing Covid Russian roulette? It’s kind of like a method actor asking, “what is my motivation here?”.

Greg Sargent wrote about this last week in his post about Kevin McCarthy’s slavish devotion to the man whose insurrectionist droogs nearly got him killed. Here’s the answer:

Sena says the 2022 elections will be fought in a fraught politico-psychological environment, one laced with anxieties about the aftermath of the covid-19 trauma.

That has several components: whether people feel the vaccination campaign successfully restored social normalcy, whether the transition back to school is smooth, and whether the economy is recovering from its self-imposed covid deep freeze, restoring workplace normalcy.

Yet on these topics, Sena continued, Republicans have a problem: The GOP base is fully in thrall to Trump. Their mythology dictates both that covid was a liberal hoax and that his heroic vanquishing of it showed his towering strength and leadership.

So everything Biden has done since then must be dismissed as having taken the country downhill in every way. Voicing this is essential, Sena says, because “the base agrees” with this premise, and Republicans are “speaking directly to their base.”

The idea is that if Covid hasn’t been fully resolved by Election Day 2022, the Republican suburban vote will come home and take it out on the Democrats.

This is a version of the apocalyptic “signs” concept that dominates eschatological evangelical cults. The worse the world gets, the closer they get to the messiah returning. If you want to make that happen faster, find the most evil person you can find to run the government and set him loose to make this “system of things” even more chaotic. I think there’s an ethical argument against the “ends justifies the means” strategy but fundies don’t care about secular ethics when they have a book of prophecies written by god. I mean, how can a rational person hold a candle to holy scripture?

In case you were wondering why evangelical Christians worship Trump it’s because god appointed him as his agent to mess things up, test us, and bring on Armageddon. They *want* him to be awful but they don’t think it will affect them. It’s all those unbelievers out there who are going to die horrible deaths, Then the Raptured will sit there all smug in the sky singing a song of schadenfreude by their newest Christian rock band.

So what’s going to happen when Covid *does* affect the Refusenik? After all, they’re the only ones that are going to get sick, possibly seriously enough to need hospitalization. Some may die. The rest of us vaccinated people might not get more than a passing “off” day or a mild illness. Frank Luntz says Refuseniks finally come around after Covid kicks their asses. But that might come after days lost at work, medical expenses and the risk of long Covid.

Luntz also says that the rest of us don’t phrase our requests right. We frequently include words refuseniks find unpalatable in a regular subject/predicate sentence. But since we don’t know in advance exactly what combination of adjectives, nouns and verbs will set them off, this is like the bad boyfriend appeasement ritual where we must all walk on eggshells so we don’t piss them off. And if you’ve ever had a relationship with one of those types, you know that eventually, you have to stop doing that. Eggshells will get crushed by the truth. Ain’t no one got time to endlessly rephrase. In fact, it’s a really good way to allow the Refusenik to persist in their delusion if they insist that we need to avoid upsetting them with, you know, words. Of any kind. Fine. Let them get sick. That’ll learn’em.

Still, unless we have people dying in the streets like they did in India, it might not be enough.

How about a hit to the 401k? Food shortages? Higher car prices? Higher everything prices as computer chips don’t get made, shipping containers sit on the wrong side of the ocean and food rots in the fields because there is no one to pick it?

I don’t know what might happen next. But I do know that it’s reckless to subject the economy to more shocks. That kind of thing is unpredictable especially if it affects all parts of the globe.

Will the refusenik finally see that there were many countries that were involved in hoaxing them or will they work their way out of this thought experiment? Well, as Frank Luntz will tell you, the fear of death tends make voters elect big daddy conservatives. It’s how conservative voters are wired. Their amygdalas are overstimulated and the fear tends to make it difficult to reason with them. There’s a good chance that they’ll assign the cause of a stock market crash and the loss of a good chunk of their retirement funds to Biden. It’s not that it’s his fault. It’s just that they’re going to blame him. He’s the most visible target.

You just have to wonder why the right would deliberately encourage it’s constituency to ignore safety precautions and put their own lives, livelihoods and retirements at risk for Trump. What does the right have to gain from it? What tasty scenario are they savoring while their voters get sick, or die, or lose their savings? Why would they make it a virtue for their base to sacrifice themselves in this way? What could they hate more than they love their own lives?

What is their motivation here?

9 Responses

  1. I would suggest that a good portion of the people “running” the Republican Party have not really thought it out much, their reactions are reflexive. During the Clinton and Obama presidencies, they attacked every single thing that they did or said, with the goal being to create this image of them being an evil force who must be gotten rid of. They didn’t manage to get rid of either of them, but they defeated all sorts of people down the ticket, particularly under Obama. That is of course the immediate goal this time, and then they’ll worry about 2024.

    So they’ll root for all sorts of disaster and chaos, and blame it all on the Democrats. That is really all they have, anyway, along with the culture issues they invent.

    As to the Evangelicals, it is harder to discern how they think. But to risk generalizing, my sense is that they do not at all believe in science, which allows them to blame anything that happens not on cause and effect, but on evil gaining victories over good, which must be changed, by weeding out and getting rid of the evil people, whom they are taught to believe are the Democrats. And I guess that they have the kind of belief systems which allow them to deny reality; and as you very well explain, to see bad things as part of a larger plan to elevate them for eternity, while destroying their foes. In that sense, their side is always winning, which is why they hold so desperately to their beliefs, and deny what the rest of us see as happening.

    • I’m betting that the party that is not a party or PTINAP (the leading P is silent) has done a careful cost benefit analysis and has concluded that the chaos, additional Covid measures they hate and economic disaster will amp up the fear, uncertainty and dread. Then they can use that FUD to play on the vulnerable who will turn to them in the elections.
      With gerrymandering on top of that, they might have just enough votes in just the right places to get the House and Senate. They’ve got plans and they’re not finished yet.

      • That would account for certain Republican officials, and certainly their propaganda networks, trying to get people not to take the vaccine, and not to wear masks. The more the virus spreads, the more they will blame it on the Democrats, even though they are the ones responsible for it.

  2. I’m not sure to what extent I agree or disagree with the following:

    https://undark.org/2021/07/01/what-the-media-gets-wrong-about-red-state-vaccine-hesitancy/

    • D’OH! I forgot that I found that link on this website, in the comment thread of a previous post. 😛

    • Oh boy🙄. This is so full of crap. Not the part about black and Native American communities. They have a history of being royally screwed.
      The white working class thing is just stupid. They have plenty of access to the vaccine. It’s easily available and it’s free. Not only that but they likely know a zillion people personally who have gotten the vaccine and suffered no side effects.
      They aren’t taking the vaccine because they are still wrapped up in tribal identity and their news sources are feeding them misinformation so they can’t trust their lying eyes.
      I’m with Kimmel here. No more excuses. If you don’t get the vaccine, don’t whine about your 401k, inflation, the Onega variant or rhat sudden headache and nasty cough.

      • I had my Moderna shots in April and May, if anyone’s wondering.

        There are some genuine, though not insurmountable, practical difficulties in immunizing a rural population that are milder, or absent, with an urban population. However, yes, it would help if so many of the red-staters (and “red-minded” people in purple and blue states) had not been brainwashed by the right-wing propaganda pseudo-media (pre-Web and Web both).

        • Welp,,I was vaccinated in April and May in Beaver county pennsylvania. I had to go out of urban Allegheny county because Allegheny was super restrictive for a long time only vaccinating the elderly and teachers. Pre-existing and immunocompromised had to take an old cold tater and wait. I actually had my first shot cancelled because I wasn’t old enough. So I went to Beaver county where there weren’t restrictions by age for pre-existing. Beaver county is rural. It’s the last place Trump rallied before the election. It’s location makes it ideal for pulling in the rural population from three states.
          Believe it or not, the farmers had no problem locating Beaver Memorial Hospital. My aunt and I got there at 12:15 when it was moving at a brisk pace but not crowded. By the time we left 30 minutes later, the line was out the door. Maybe Pennsylvania just did it better than Arkansas. There are still a lot of holdouts but the barrier to getting a vaccine out in the country was in some ways easier than getting it in Pittsburgh. Go figure.

  3. As for the higher-ranking members of the GRP (Grim Reaper Party), I read a speculation earlier today (IIRC) that since COVID was striking more non-white people than white people, maybe the GRP bosses figure that if COVID runs wild, it will kill more of our voters than theirs.

    This may backfire on them, as it would seem that mostly their voters will refuse to get vaccinated as time goes by.

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