Maybe That Vaccine Survey Suggests Republicans Are Independent Thinkers…

…and non-Republicans are not.

What are we talking about? This week LSU released the results of a survey about COVID vaccines and who’s reluctant to take them. The results, at least as they’re being sold by the media, show that Louisiana’s conservatives are a bunch of rebels and outlaws. Or something.

Almost one-third of Louisiana residents, including almost half of the state’s Republicans, don’t want to get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new poll.

LSU’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs conducts the annual Louisiana Survey. The center released the second of five reports Thursday based on the results.

By early March, 17% of Louisiana adults had received a COVID-19 vaccination, while 41% planned to get one when they could, according to the survey. Gov. John Bel Edwards has expanded vaccine eligibility in stages based on age, health conditions and line of work, though anyone age 16 or older now is eligible.

However, 32% have not yet received the vaccine and do not intend to do so. Nine percent are not sure whether they will receive the vaccine.

The report noted a “stark partisan divide” in thinking about COVID-19 vaccination. Among Democrats, 78% either already received the vaccination or intend to do so, while 13% of Democrats said they will not get the vaccine. Another 9% remained unsure.

While about half of Republicans (49%) said they either already have received or will receive the vaccine, 43% said they will not. Another 8% remained unsure.

Interestingly, there was a pretty big racial divide as well…

The survey also found racial differences in attitudes about the vaccines. While similar shares of Black residents and white residents – 18% and 19%, respectively – reported they already have received the vaccine, a larger share of Black residents (49%) than white residents (38%) intended to get the vaccine when they can.

That’s probably an effect of marketing, because early on there was an enormous amount of reticence on the part of the black community toward taking the vaccine.

Something that was fueled to no small extent by several prominent people branding COVID vaccines as something Donald Trump produced. Now that it’s Joe Biden taking credit for the vaccines it’s OK to take them.

Just so everybody is aware, we aren’t anti-vaccination here. We simply think that it’s government’s obligation in this case to convince people to take the vaccine rather than to coerce them into it. We can’t find anybody in government we think is remotely qualified to impose their own judgement on the lives of average Americans, and in fact the evidence goes entirely the opposite way right now. So gentle, intellectual persuasion had better be the order of the day.

Back to the massive difference in Republican attitudes toward COVID vaccines as opposed to those of Democrats, though. The comments of some of these people are just dripping with dismissive attitudes toward people who aren’t on board…

Dr. Joe Kanter, the state health director, predicts that the vaccine will become less political and more normalized as more and more people get inoculated. He attributed some of the partisan divide to differing views on the role of government. Initially, with supply so limited, the state had a big role in the rollout, but as more doses become available, that grip will loosen.

“Aside from the tiny, tiny subset of individuals, who might be labeled antivaxxers, in general, vaccines are not highly political. What is political sometimes is the extent to which governments are advancing it,” Kanter said.

Steve Scalise, John Kennedy and Julia Letlow are among the GOP political leaders actively out trying to convince Republicans to get vaccinated. That probably helps, though we imagine the partisan divide when it comes to vaccinations is going to linger.

The thing is, if the vaccines weren’t political then why did left-wing pundits and politicians trash Operation Warp Speed when Trump was pushing it? Why isn’t the Biden administration giving Trump credit for producing the vaccines they’re distributing?

The entire thing is politicized. It was politicized from the start. For it not to be politicized, Democrats in positions of authority would have had to jump on board with vaccinations and give the Trump administration credit for its accomplishment in that regard.

They didn’t.

And of course, here in Louisiana what you have is a governor who has done everything he could to push wasteful, needless and unscientific COVID policies, unnecessarily locking down Louisiana’s already-moribund economy and trashing the state’s quality of life. John Bel Edwards presided over Louisiana’s economy shrinking by $10 billion, a 5.5 percent economic contraction, in 2020, and Louisiana’s COVID outcomes were among the worst in America.

Democrats might be willing to give him credit for trying. Republicans aren’t as likely.

And when John Bel Edwards refuses to lift a mask mandate like the governors of all of our neighboring states are doing, it’s a colossal disincentive to take the vaccine.

This is so stupid it’s mind-blowing. What’s the point of taking the vaccine if you’re still going to be under a government restriction? We don’t subscribe to these theories about the COVID vaccines being deadly or dangerous or part of some kind of globalist plot, but if you’ve already had the virus or if you’re not particularly worried about getting it, the only real incentive to take the vaccine is to get on with life. And if the troglodyte in the governor’s mansion insists that you not get on with your life, and that you practice social distancing and hide your face from your neighbors, then why bother with the risk of a vaccine, regardless of how small?

Especially since for the vast majority of folks COVID isn’t a deadly illness. You might not even know you’ve had it.

It’s really not complicated. If Edwards wants something from the people who justifiably have zero faith in his leadership particularly on this issue, particularly since he’s just another Democrat politician who doesn’t follow his own rules, then he needs to give something up in return.

He needs to do what governors in Texas, Mississippi and Florida are doing. He needs to reopen the state and lift all the restrictions, and then he needs to remind people that all of this works better and the risk is greatly reduced for the folks who are vulnerable, if everybody goes out and gets a vaccine.

That functions as something of a social contract. It signals a few things. First, that John Bel Edwards isn’t actually a control freak out to run everybody’s life and using COVID as a pretext. Second, that he is in fact interested in Louisiana’s economy and quality of life returning to a normal mode of operation. Third, that he respects the ability of ordinary folks to make their own prudent decisions. And fourth, that the vaccine is a means to achieve the pre-COVID normalcy we all want.

Right now, particularly among Louisiana’s Republicans, John Bel Edwards doesn’t have any credibility on those four points. Even the state’s population in general isn’t sold on them.

The funny thing is, go just about anywhere in the state right now and you’ll see an awful lot of people who are done with wearing masks or any of that other COVID stuff. People have had it and they’re just not doing it anymore. Go into a store and you’ll see as many chin straps as you do masks, and all it takes is one person walking around without a mask on and where there used to be Karens giving the rebels a hard time, now it’s a signal that everybody can take theirs off.

That only intensifies the more people take the vaccine. Once you’ve taken it nobody is going to sell you on the idea you still have to wear a mask, and it’s especially not going to be persuasive that you’ll make people “feel better” by wearing it.

That mentality is not the product of individual thought or the application of reason. It’s submission to authority.

Republicans are less susceptible to that than Democrats are, especially right now in Louisiana where it’s hard to find any Republicans in executive control of anything. And with Democrats attempting to rebrand the vaccines as their accomplishment and without offering a return to normalcy in exchange for vaccine compliance, and particularly with hooliganistic ideas like vaccine passports afoot, there is absolutely no reason why an independent thinker shouldn’t recognize what a lousy deal is being offered.

Republicans aren’t the problem. John Bel Edwards and Joe Biden are the problem. If you suck at your job and you’re a lousy leader, don’t complain about your people being reticent to follow you.

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