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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/21/21

The Republican Party of Death

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Cathedral Of Trier Skeleton. The Grim Reaper indeed. Had to have been a Republican.
Cathedral Of Trier Skeleton. The Grim Reaper indeed. Had to have been a Republican.
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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)


In this space as well as in those of many many others, the policies of the Republican Party in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic have been well chronicled. When the Trumpites were in power they (and in particular Trump) did the best they could to play down its seriousness, as well as to institute policies that could not bring it under control and in certain instances made it worse (see, e.g.: Click Here ; Click Here ; Click Here ; Click Here ; Click Here ).

For example Trumpites were responsible for: not having a national plan for testing and contact-tracing; to not having a national plan for manufacturing and distributing Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers, first responders, and etc. to where they were needed at the beginning; to continually downplaying the severity of the pandemic accompanied by periodic claims that it would just "all go away" (Eric Trump actually said that that would happen if Joe Biden happened to win the election); to pushing useless remedies, like chloroquine, or extremely expensive ones, like Regeneron); to pursuing the development of vaccines (which the drug companies likely would have done at "warp speed" anyway --- have you ever known a U.S. drug company not to go hell-bent-for-leather when profits are being sniffed[?]) in an unplanned way with no plan for distribution in an orderly way; the original resistance to masking (which happens to be one of the most effective methods for resisting the transmission of this particular disease) --- see Trump's dramatic de-masking of himself upon his return to the White House, and super-spreader events at the White House as his term was winding down; and of course see the super-spreader event on Jan. 6.

But since Joe Biden made it past the plot-to-reinstate-Trump set up for Jan. 6 that Pence was on the verge of trying to implement (see Woodward and Costa's Peril), the Republicans at the state level have taken the pandemic-promotion policy to a whole new level by variously (from state-to-state, mainly in the South and the upper Mid-West [e.g., South Dakota]): opposing mass-vaccination programs (by not supporting them); actively opposing the use of mandates for masks, in schools, places of business, and etc., as an "imposition on personal freedom." (Of course in most of the same states they are more than happy to mandate (as now in Texas; on the to-do list in many other Republican-run ones) that there is no such thing as freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy [that is, of course, mandates are no good when I don't like 'em, but they are just fine when I do; in the latter case the Establishment Clause of the Constitution be damned). As is well-known, the morbidity/mortality statistics for the "no-mandates/no-programs" states far exceed those in the states that are public-health oriented.

Now certain states, like Florida and Texas, the Republican Governments are particularly aggressive in suppressing masking, while not being particularly aggressive in promoting vaccination. In fact, I am told by a relative who lives in Florida that locally, Gov. Ron DeSantis is known as Gov. "Death-Santis." Now, while some of their legislative and other locally elected officials, as well as some of their major contributors are idiots, generally people like Abbott in Texas, DeSantis in Florida and Reeves in Mississippi are not. Yet they firmly oppose mask mandates for schools and places of business. So, the question arises: "why." The answer obviously has nothing to do with public health. It is not as if there are two competing approaches to combatting an infectious disease that are equally effective: masking, vaccinating, maintain social distancing where feasible, avoiding locales with know prospective high infectivity rates, and so on and so forth; and not doing the above. Part of the answer lies in what is traditionally called "politics."

Listen to the self-same Gov. of Mississippi, Reeves: "It is unique to kids and their ability to go to our public schools, it's not vaccines mandated in the workplace. But the question here is not about what we do in Mississippi, it's what this President is trying to impose upon the American worker. The President very much wants you and everyone else to believe that this is a fight between politicians, . . ." Now those sentences don't make too much sense grammatically, nor do the policies they promote do much for the health of the public --- in fact those policies of course harm the health of the public.

In fact,: "Mississippi has the highest death toll per capita from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University on Saturday. Nearly one out of every 320 people in Mississippi have died of coronavirus." But they do sell politically to the constituency that Reeves and similar want to sell to. And of course, in terms of the personal rights that Gov. Reeves is so concerned about having over-ridden (to protect the health of other persons) the overwhelming irony in Mississippi is that it has a case now before the Supreme Court that, if the state wins, Roe v. Wade would be overturned and the mandate guaranteeing personal choice in the outcome of pregnancy would be wiped off the books in any state that wanted to do such a thing.

OK. So, the first answer to the "why" question --- that is why are these Republican governors and state legislatures actually promoting the spread of the disease --- is "politics" (and I am certainly very far from alone in making that argument). Their generally un- or undereducated supporters fall into the political trap set for them. Starting with Trump's original approach to the disease --- "it's the 'Wuhan flu'; it's a Democratic hoax; it will just go away; statistics lie; 'you can wait it out;' 'any standard public health measures are a Democratic plot to take away your freedom' " and so-and-so-forth have set up the Trump-Republican voter to believe the lies. And that is where the votes are. So that is certainly one motivation for the Republican strategy. But is there possibly a more sinister one? In terms of the white population, do the Republicans want evermore ammunition to aim at the Biden Administration? That certain Republican voices deny the possibility most furiously possibly gives some credence to the charge. And since both the morbidity and mortality rates among non-whites are higher than among whites, could that have something to do with Republican policy?

Republicans make no claims that their policies are designed to reduce COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. As pointed out repeatedly above, any public health professional (and I happen to be one) knows that in fact their policies will help spread the disease and its results in too many cases, death. OK, so it is obvious that one reason why the Repubs. do what they do is subsumed in one word: "politics." But, as the experience in the Republican-controlled states clearly shows, while the process the they are following is determined by politics, not what is best for the health of the public, the outcome of those policies is clearly something else: DEATH. Indeed. Whether by design or by inadvertence (that is not paying attention) it can be concluded that the Republican Party has become the Party of Death.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a ├ éČ┼"Trusted Author,├ éČ Ł he is a Senior (more...)
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