The Consequences of Partisanship

Politics is not a game.

David Leonhardt in the NYT has a pretty stark set of numbers that shows the consequences of politics and partisanship in the era of Covid-19: Red Covid.

During the early months of Covid-19 vaccinations, several major demographic groups lagged in receiving shots, including Black Americans, Latino Americans and Republican voters.

More recently, the racial gaps — while still existing — have narrowed. The partisan gap, however, continues to be enormous. A Pew Research Center poll last month found that 86 percent of Democratic voters had received at least one shot, compared with 60 percent of Republican voters.

There are several graphs to illustrate this fact, but I will share these two and recommend the whole piece.

All of which reminded me of this from the Ezra Klein Show a few weeks ago:

Seth Masket, a political scientist, he put out this incredible finding to me, which is — and I’m quoting him here — that “vaccination rates are a better predictor of the 2020 election than the 2000 election is. That is, if you want to know how a state voted in 2020, you can get more information from knowing its current vaccination rate than from knowing how it voted 20 years ago,” unquote.

To help illustrate all of this is a story from Morning Edition this morning about Arizona’s governor offering money to parents who want to send their kids to schools without mask mandates (Critics Blast Arizona’s School Voucher Offer As A Way To Avoid Mask Mandates). I was struck first that this is just another way that a GOP politician is signaling that public health attempts to mitigate spreading a contagious disease are just politics and not, you know, about saving lives and keeping people well. I was further struck by a mother who was interviewed who was upset that her choice about masking was taken away by her local school. There was no reason given for her not wanting her child to wear a mask, but instead, it was framed simply as a personal choice (and the governor was coming to her rescue, to empower her family to send her child to a school not engaged in infection mitigation–hooray for freedom!).

Every politician, media personality, and attention-seeker who has made vaccines and masks into political statements is responsible for the increased deaths in that second chart above. There is just no way around that fact.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Health, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Jen says:

    It’s really absurd.

    I’ve moved to thinking about what the longer-term ramifications are, both for politics (local, especially) and public health.

    The public health angle is particularly concerning. We have all kinds of rules and regulations to maintain public health that go against “personal freedoms.” It’s clear that the crowd that is comfortable with politicizing this objects to “government” telling them what to do. I have a feeling that this isn’t going to end well. We already have state representatives suggesting the elimination of all vaccination requirements–I cannot think of anything more gawd-awful stupid than passing these laws.

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  2. Mister Bluster says:

    Every politician, media personality, and attention-seeker who has made vaccines and masks into political statements is responsible for the increased deaths in that second chart above. There is just not way around that fact.

    They are out to kill the rest of us. How can we defend ourselves?

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  3. Gustopher says:

    I was struck first that this is just another way that a GOP politician is signaling that public health attempts to mitigate spreading a contagious disease are just politics and not, you know, about saving lives and keeping people well.

    These are the same people who have spent the last 20 years being terrified because some Muslims killed 3000 Americans in the WTC attacks, despite the fact that the vast majority of these people hate NYC.

    For that, we have to have our liberties curtailed, and monitored, and blow things up overseas for decades. But when it comes their time to bear the slightest inconvenience to help their country from a larger threat, they complain and whine and throw temper tantrums.

    Mitigation efforts that are an actual threat to America… totally fine, so long as it mostly happens to “other people,” but if they have to wear a mask or get tested or get vaccinated against a deadly disease… tyranny!

    I was further struck by a mother who was interviewed who was upset that her choice about masking was taken away by her local school.

    Whether or not to spread disease is one of the most important decisions that a person can make for their children.

    Aside: If the NEA somehow indirectly ends up funding a painting of Christ on the Cross wearing a mask, we will never hear the end of it.

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  4. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Devise, in a lab, a deadlier, more contagious variant the vaccines still protect against, or make new vaccines for that variant, and let them throw their tantrum.

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  5. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..Devise, in a lab,..

    If I still had my Gilbert Chemistry Set I’d drive them out of the country with the stink I used to make with the sulphur.

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  6. charon says:

    Example of MAGA propaganda:

    https://gizmodo.com/anti-vaccine-cartoonist-ben-garrison-says-hes-got-covid-1847749901

    With 1,440 cases this year so far, ivermectin poisoning has more than tripled since 2019 and 2020, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The New York Times reported Sunday that in New Mexico, two people have died; their deaths are being attributed to the use of ivermectin instead of proven covid-19 treatments. State health officials say that ivermectin caused kidney failure in one of the patients.

    Garrison told Gizmodo that he and his wife are not feeling well and that he’s completely lost his sense of taste and smell. Garrison seems to believe that he and his wife are struggling to overcome the disease because they’re in their mid-60s.

    “Both Tina and I feel slightly better after two weeks, but it has been rough. I lost my taste and smell as well as desire to eat any kind of food. I lost 15 pounds as a result. Young people tend to bounce back more quickly, but we’re in our mid-60s,” Garrison wrote.

    When Gizmodo asked Garrison whether he’d been vaccinated against covid-19, he repeated many of the same conspiracy theories that appear in his cartoons.

    “We will never take their foul spike protein-producing jabs, which are neither safe nor effective. They’re not real vaccines. They’re gene therapy,” Garrison wrote in an email to Gizmodo.

    “15,000 have died as a result of the Covid vaccines and hundreds of thousands others have had serious side effects. The mainstream media will not mention a word of this—not one peep. Instead we get the ’safe and effective’ malarky over and over as well as government pushers urging us to take the free poison. Don’t do it. The Pfizer CEO certainly won’t. Bill Gates and his family won’t, either,” Garrison claimed.

    Garrison says he’d never visit a hospital to treat his covid-19. (Last week, NBC News reported that anti-vaccine Facebook groups have been influencing members to not seek hospital treatment for covid-19 and even instructed them to pull their sick family members out of ICU.)

    “I would never go to a hospital with Covid. Robert David Steele did it a few weeks ago and they killed him. The hospitals get extra money for Covid death reports, which is necessary to keep fear ramped up,” Garrison claimed in an email to Gizmodo.

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  7. CSK says:

    @charon:
    That says it all, doesn’t it?

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  8. senyordave says:

    @charon: At least he’s not cluttering up the hospitals. To quote Clarence Darrow, I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.

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  9. charon says:

    It is not simple partisanship, it is dishonest false “information” being promulgated, for whatever reasons, within a closed partisan information bubble.

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  10. Raoul says:

    Three words: horse deworming paste. That tells you all you need to know about the pandemic and America’s sorry state.

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  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    @charon:

    “We will never take their foul spike protein-producing jabs, which are neither safe nor effective. They’re not real vaccines. They’re gene therapy,” Garrison wrote in an email to Gizmodo.

    Real vaccines have a sign next to them with “VACCINES” written on it and an arrow pointing to them.

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  12. Gustopher says:

    @charon: It would be a shame to lose such a great artist. He’s like the Chuck Tingle of right wing cartooning.

    I hope Chuck Tingle got his vaccine. I don’t see a “Safe, Effective and Handsome Vaccine Pounds Me In The Butt” in his titles, yet, just a book about vaccinating away straightness. He does have a book about a sentient, handsome, face mask pounding him in the butt, though, so at least he is trying to keep safe.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @senyordave: I’ve never wished a man dead,

    I have.

    but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.

    And I poured used cat litter on their graves so they will always have visitors.

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  14. charon says:

    @charon:

    There is also peer pressure and social standards involved, there are actually areas where vaccination secrecy in on offer because people want to hide being vaccinated from their neighbors – local community norms being enforced.

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  15. EddieInCA says:

    F them. Let them die for all I care.

    And, yes. I do mean it.

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  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    There was no reason given for her not wanting her child to wear a mask, but instead, it was framed simply as a personal choice [emphasis added]

    Saw that and decided to not that my impression over the years is that conservatives and conservative evangelicals in particular are not all that far removed from the era when wives and children were considered “chattel property.” It’s her choice about masking that matters, not the child’s. Fascinating stuff. Unsettling, too.

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  17. Modulo Myself says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Government wants to screw with YOUR kid is a fundamental myth with white evangelicals. That the government really lets you do anything aside from physical abuse and ECT for curing gayness never enters the picture. The myth is so strong and prevalent that there’s no evidence to go against it.

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  18. Modulo Myself says:

    I do wonder how many rural Trump counties are medical wastelands, and how much of this could have been solved by having a robust health care system where people have doctors they trust, rather than cranks on TV talking to them about medicine.

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  19. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: If you can’t use your child as a biological weapon, can you really be free? It’s all about the second amendment.

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  20. sam says:

    There’s a PhD. dissertation on Darwin somewhere in all this.

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  21. gVOR08 says:

    @charon:

    It is not simple partisanship, it is dishonest false “information” being promulgated, for whatever reasons, within a closed partisan information bubble.

    I joked a little a week or two ago about making up gVOR’s Laws as I need them. IIRC the one I had just made up was, “No matter how bad you think GOPs are, they’re worse.” When this whole thing started I was pretty optimistic. I assumed the bureaucracy would deal with it pretty much as a matter of routine and Trump would sit back and take credit for any good results. It honestly didn’t occur to me that Trump would deny it was happening, actively obstruct the bureaucracy, oppose obvious mitigation measures, and actually run on actively supporting the spread of a deadly virus. I mean, I despise Republicans, but jeez.

    And I similarly expect FOX et al to lie, but I didn’t think they’d knowingly kill people. Republicans and FOX are destroying democracy, as made clear by Robert Kagan in WAPO a few days ago. The supposedly liberal MSM have, finally, managed to draw lines at harmful COVID misinformation and election misinformation, but little else. It’s noteworthy that the Eastman memo doesn’t seem to be much of a story outside MSNBC and the lefty blogosphere. FOX and the GOPs are destroying the republic, but apparently it might be seen as partisan to mention it.

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  22. flat earth luddite says:

    Should have burned this place down when I had the chance

    (The Office, season 7, episode 19, minute 14:45)

    Or my thoughts about exactly where my generation went wrong, circa 1970 (approx)

    Truly, how did these people pass the either the written or oral licensing test for their kidlet licenses?

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  23. charon says:

    @gVOR08:

    And I similarly expect FOX et al to lie, but I didn’t think they’d knowingly kill people.

    FOX top priority is viewers, ratings, fomenting fear and resentment and anger are means to that end. They don’t really mind if the GOP loses elections, they do OK regardless. As for killing people, it’s like wars etc., if it bleeds it leads.

    There are plenty of non-partisan grifters working shticks too, but with synergy red areas are more receptive.

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  24. Chip Daniels says:

    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

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  25. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I’m becoming very Darwinian in my approach to these games, including the ones in my home state. Just let the stupid jerks die for their “freedom” if that’s what they want.

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