Bobby Jindal, then Republican governor of Louisiana, warned in 2013 that his party “must stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.”
We now have hard data showing that, whatever else the Republican Party has become, it is a party supported by people who do stupid things – so stupid that they are putting their own health and the health of others at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a map that shows the percentage of people who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in each state. The map eerily reflects the results of the 2020 presidential election.
As of Wednesday, 66 per cent of people in Vermont had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As it happens, 66 per cent of Vermonters voted for Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
All of New England voted Democrat; all except Rhode Island (which is at 58 per cent) have vaccination rates of 60 per cent or higher. The Pacific states of California, Oregon and Washington all went Democrat; all are at or above 51-per-cent vaccinated.
Now look at some of the battleground states that went Republican in 2016 but Democrat in 2020. Wisconsin: 49 per cent for Biden and 48 per cent at least partly vaccinated; Pennsylvania: 50 per cent and 55 per cent; Michigan: 51 per cent and 46 per cent. Battleground states have lower vaccination levels than solid Democratic states.
In some big states that former Republican president Donald Trump won in 2020, the vaccination rates are lower still. Texas gave him 52 per cent of the vote; only 41 per cent of the state is at least partly vaccinated. Ohio, 53 per cent and 43 per cent; Indiana went 57-per-cent Republican and is only 40-per-cent vaccinated.
The deeply MAGA states are deeply vaccine-resistant. Alabama voted 62-per-cent Republican and has only vaccinated 35 per cent of its population. Seventy per cent of people in Wyoming voted for Mr. Trump; 36 per cent have received a vaccine. Bottom of the barrel: Mississippi, where 58 per cent of voters supported Mr. Trump and only 33 per cent of the people are dosed.
There are other correlations, of course. Mississippi has the lowest median income of any state in the union; Maryland, which has the highest, has 54 per cent of its population vaccinated and voted Biden. Only 23 per cent of people in Republican Arkansas (vaccination rate: 38 per cent) have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 43 per cent of people in once-purple-now blue Colorado (51-per-cent dosed) have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
So we can say that states with lower incomes and lower education levels skew in favour of the Republican Party and against vaccinations for COVID-19.
The United States may never reach herd immunity through vaccination. Forty-five per cent of people who identify as Republican say they do not intend to receive a vaccine, according to a Marist poll. Only 4 per cent of Democrats say the same. Some states, in a desperate bid to increase vaccinations, are offering people money or holding lotteries that only the vaccinated may enter.
Vaccine-hesitancy once made some sense. Were the manufacturers cutting corners? Were regulators turning a blind eye? But with 160 million doses delivered in the U.S. alone, the risks have been proven minimal.
People who refuse to be vaccinated aren’t just putting themselves and others at risk. It’s reasonable for employers to insist that workers who are medically able to get a vaccine provide proof of vaccination before returning to the workplace. It’s reasonable for shops and theatres and universities and airlines and health care providers to make similar demands.
Refusing to be vaccinated is not just life-risking; it could become increasingly lifestyle-risking and finance-risking as well.
There are lots of really smart Republicans. Twenty-seven states have Republican governors, many of whom do a good job of providing sensible, limited government. According to the data intelligence firm Morning Consult, the 10 most popular governors in the United States are all Republican.
Nonetheless, facts are facts. And the fact is that tens of millions of Americans who vote Republican refuse to receive a potentially lifesaving vaccine for no good reason. Bobby Jindal was right.
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