Heather Cox Richardson nails it and opens my eyes
Reading Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter this morning, it finally dawned on me: The Republican, Red State, Fox News push for no masks, lukewarm, if any, support of Covid vaccinations (in Fox’s case, even false allegations that the vaccination is dangerous) and general disdain for CDC and NIH admonitions, is actually a well designed, if perverse, attempt to not only hold onto the power they have, but to retake Congress in 2022 and the presidency in 2024.
From Richardson’s post:
“When President Joe Biden took office, his top priority was to get Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus, which was devastating the country. He refused to criticize how Republican governors had handled the crisis with the idea that this would be an issue around which Americans could unite, and that unity might then help us get beyond the polarization that has paralyzed us for so long.
“In response, Republican pundits, especially those on the Fox News Channel, undermined support for the vaccine. Right-wing accounts on social media warned people the vaccine was dangerous and said that Covid-19 was a hoax, or almost certainly survivable.”
And it isn’t just pundits, it’s GOP elected officials as well:
“Today, in just the latest example, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said, ‘It’s time for us to resist. They can’t arrest all of us…. No one should follow the CDC,’ going on to say, ‘..there was no reason they should not return to school full time, without masks’ and…’he would work to defund any school or government agency or school that did not simply resume its pre-pandemic operations.‘
“When Biden asked Republican governors on August 3 to help or get out of the way, Florida governor Ron DeSantis responded: ‘Joe Biden has the nerve to tell me to get out of the way on COVID while he lets COVID-infected migrants pour over our southern border by the hundreds of thousands. No elected official is doing more to enable the transmission of COVID in America than Joe Biden with his open borders policies,’ and claimed: ‘He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border.‘
“Instead of trying to stop the spread of the virus, Republicans are blaming Biden for it. They claim that it is sparked by his handling of immigration on our southern border and that infected immigrants are responsible for the spike in the deadly disease.
“…Rand Paul has gone so far as to claim that administration officials are deliberately sending infected immigrant children around the country to spread the variant. Yesterday, Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis called for Biden’s impeachment over the issue.”
Of course, as Richardson points out, this is all patently false:
“In fact, the administration continues to reject or expel border crossers under a public health order known as Title 42. It does permit the entry of unaccompanied minors and some vulnerable families. Migrants who cross the border are immediately required to wear masks. They are not tested at Customs and Border Patrol unless they show symptoms, but all are tested if they move into the system, and those who test positive for coronavirus are quarantined. Those slated for deportation are quarantined before they are deported. While infection rates are climbing, because of both the Delta variant and the crowding at Border Patrol, immigrants test positive at a lower rate than the rate of non-immigrants around them.”
And now Trump is joining the “blame Biden chorus” lamenting, “Could you imagine if I were president right now and we had this massive attack from the coronavirus? If that were me, they would say, ‘What a horrible thing, what a horrible job.’ And I don’t ever hear that,” he whined to Fox’s Dan Bongino.
Richardson’s conclusion is “Republicans are using the deadly new coronavirus variant to stoke anti-immigrant fires. It is cynical, it is deadly… and it takes us one more step toward authoritarianism.”
So, Republicans, and their Fox News (and other right-wing media voices) truth distorters, are now blaming the pandemic on migrants on the southern border, bringing back to center stage one of their favorite tropes, immigration/fear of the other, while condemning Biden for the current Delta variant surge. In their deceitful campaign they don’t mention that their lack of support for preventive measures, namely vaccinations and masks, is really the reason for the crisis, and that the overwhelming number of new Covid cases are among the unvaccinated. In other words, they are rallying their base with the usual suspect subjects and dog whistles while hoping that enough of the persuadable that support them don’t die before they vote in the upcoming elections.
I guess Heather is correct: it is cynical and deadly.