When Joe Biden announced sweeping federal coronavirus vaccine requirements for 100 million Americans, the White House braced for objections from Republican opponents.
But in 2021, the right-wing backlash has gone far beyond mere political debate in the area of inflammatory language that analysts fear could translate into direct and violent action.
In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster sworn to fight “At the gates of hell to protect the freedom and livelihoods of every South Carolinian”. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves tweeted, “The vaccine itself saves lives, but this unconstitutional decision is terrifying. JD Vance, a conservative candidate for Senate seat in Ohio, warned, “Only mass civil disobedience will save us from the naked authoritarianism of Joe Biden.”
And the right-wing media went further, casually throwing up terms such as “authoritarian,” “fascist,” “totalitarian” and “tyrannical” to characterize the president’s tenure that all employers over 100 workers require their employees to be vaccinated or tested. for the virus every week.
The rhetoric is seen as dangerous in a feverish political atmosphere that saw a deadly insurgency at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 6 and plans for another extremist protest at the same location on Saturday. This week, U.S. Capitol Police arrested a man in a truck armed with several knives, a bayonet and a machete near the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
Kurt Bardella, a Democratic adviser to the Congressional campaign committee said: “After what we saw in this country on January 6, ‘civil disobedience’ is the code word for violence and acts of terror when it comes to the Republican Party. So many members of this party are trying to whitewash the events of January 6, have called those behind him “patriots” and have gone so far as to suggest that those who have been jailed for their crimes should be released.
“The only conclusion that can be drawn from their continued rallying cries for what they call ‘civil disobedience’ is that it is a call for more violence, more chaos, more destruction.” , and reinforces the reality that the Republican Party is a national terrorist organization.«
The battle over vaccination warrants is the latest development in a corrosive cultural war against efforts to stop the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, now causing 150,000 cases and 1,500 deaths per day. This politicization had led to mask fires, physical altercations in schools and even boos from former President Donald Trump when he advocated vaccines to his own supporters.
Biden’s intervention last week was seen as a turning point where he replaced the carrot with the stick and ultimately got tough on the unvaccinated people unnecessarily prolonging the pandemic. He said: “We have been patient, but our patience is running out. And your refusal has cost us all.
The White House is convinced that it has the majority of the public on its side. Three in five Americans support the new mandates for private companies and federal government employees, according to an Axios / Ipsos poll this week. Media reports suggest that many employers are quietly welcoming the blanket Biden’s move will give them to ensure their staff are vaccinated.
But that did not prevent a furious and unbalanced cast of the president as dictator. Matt Walsh, a podcast host, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “We had to elect that rotten bag of oatmeal to have a real bully… to have chosen for Americans… Shall we comply and bow to it, or are we finally going to stand up and say, “You know what, that’s not going to happen? “
Fox News ran online headlines such as “BIDEN IS AN AUTHORITY” and “BIDEN DECLARES WAR ON MILLIONS OF AMERICANS”. His website has since published an article about the resignation of an army lieutenant colonel to protest the Covid-19 vaccine mandate and what he described as the “Marxist takeover of the army” .
Three Republican governors announced as 2024 presidential candidates took their example. Kristi Noem of South Dakota has said she is preparing to go to court. Greg Abbott of Texas called this an “assault on private companies.” Ron DeSantis from Florida said, “I don’t think people should lose their jobs because of this problem, and we will fight it. “
More than 208 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but some 80 million remain unvaccinated. There are now around 300% more new daily Covid-19 infections, around two and a half times the hospitalizations and almost twice the number of deaths than at the same time last year.
In this context, Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, finds the Republican position disconcerting and disconcerting. “It’s dangerous for others and it’s dangerous for themselves,” she said. “How many right-wing talk show hosts have already died from Covid? It is actually quite inexplicable. I can certainly see getting mad about taxes or freedom or going to war or whatever the state does other than giving vaccines?
“It’s crazy, frankly. There is no other word for it than crazy. The Republican Party has been taken over by madmen. All these people doing that, their children got vaccines against polio, measles, mumps, rubella. All babies in the United States get vaccinated and it’s mandatory. It is compulsory to go to school. So it’s pretty crazy. “
There are few signs that Biden is backing down. During a visit to a school in Washington last week, he accused Republican governors of being “cavaliers” with the health of young Americans, and when asked about those who would file legal challenges, he replied: “Expect”.
And it’s still unclear whether the noise and fury from the right will affect more than part of the Trump base. David Frum, former speechwriter and special assistant to President George W Bush, tweeted: “How is this campaign of mass civil disobedience against the vaccination warrants going?” Only 2% of human resources professionals surveyed say they have noticed cases of employees resigning rather than being vaccinated.