Joe Biden said that states should offer $100 as an incentive for people to get the COVID-19 shot. Steve has a far less expensive -- and likely far more effective – idea. It that takes advantage of a heretofore untapped but very powerful resource: the blind loyalty and boundless ignorance of Trump supporters.
You can feel it in the air. It is palpable. Vaccinated America is fed up with unvaccinated America.
New York City and California lowered the boom on government employees, announcing that all workers must be either vaccinated or undergo frequent COVID testing.
A host of major corporations, including Google, Facebook, Netflix, BlackRock, and Morgan Stanley, announced requirements that all on-site employees must present proof of vaccination. Going the full measure: The Durst Organization, a real estate firm in New York City, announced that employees who are not vaccinated by September 6 will be fired.
Sounds encouraging, huh?
The problem is that you are likely to only “feel it in the air” if you live in what is already a progressive stronghold. Most of the examples of companies that are setting strict vaccination rules are organizations found on the coasts, in the bluest of Blue states. Even Joe Biden’s new mandate to Federal government employees is a proclamation from a Democratic President.
Once again, we encounter the harsh irony of COVID: the states that are taking all the right steps are the states that have the far less egregious problem.
Down in the Anti-Science, Anti-Social, Anti-Vaxxer, Anti-Biden, Antebellum States of America, you see a remarkably different picture.
If you stare at the data, the correlation between the percentage of people who are now fully vaccinated and the percentage who voted for Joe Biden is astonishing. To illustrate the point, we picked ten states that are above the national vaccination rate of 49.4%, and ten states that are below it. The state-by-state correlation between vaccination rates and Biden votes is mind-blowing:
Ten States Above National Fully-Vaccinated Percent (49.4)
% Vote for Biden 2020 % Fully Vaccinated, July 2021
Massachusetts 65.6 63.4
Connecticut 59.3 62.6
Rhode Island 59.4 60.7
New Jersey 57.3 57.4
New York 60.9 56.3
Virginia 54.1 53.8
Colorado 55.4 53.8
Minnesota 52.4 53.3
Pennsylvania 50.0 51.6
Wisconsin 49.4 51.3
Ten States Below National Fully Vaccinated Percent (49.4)
% Vote for Biden 2020 % Fully Vaccinated, July 2021
Florida 47.9 48.1
Ohio 44.9 46.0
Alaska 42.8 45.1
Indiana 41.0 43.7
Missouri 41.6 40.5
South Carolina 43.4 40.1
Tennessee 37.5 38.6
Wyoming 26.6 36.2
Arkansas 42.8 35.6
Mississippi 41.1 34.0
Alabama 36.6 33.9
This kind of data makes Blue State blood boil. You see, progressives believe in science, and therefore understand that if people in Red States refuse to be vaccinated, they become petri dishes for further mutation of the virus, which could lead to new variants that actually defy the efficacy of current vaccines… putting us all back at square one, in total lockdown, until new vaccines can be developed.
It would be one thing – a sad thing, to be sure -- if Red State ignorance and politicization of science was only causing death and illness among its own citizens. But it is an entirely different thing when Red State contempt for the shared duties of citizenship results in a needless prolonging of a deadly pandemic that is constantly exported to Blue States through free and unfettered travel. When a majority of people in Alabama decide that they have no obligation to protect their fellow citizens, children in Connecticut are put at risk. Because of pockets of strident vaccination opposition, we may have to live with COVID-19 as a permanent factor in our lives.
All to say: in the war against COVID-19, this country is only as protected as its least vaccinated state... and that is a sobering thought. Look at Alabama: months after free and easy access to a life-saving medicine, only one in three citizens has bothered to get the vaccine. Alabama, of course, was home to the heartbreaking story of vaccine ignorance relayed by Dr. Brytney Cobia from Birmingham:
“I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”
people do not even understand how a vaccine works. And every citizen in the United States is being asked to live at this standard of ignorance.
Perhaps more important, the people in these states who are opposed to taking the vaccine often hoist a notion of freedom and personal liberty as the defense for their decision. They do not seem to grasp that participation in a society means that the society may impose conditions – sometimes quite onerous – for the good of the whole. Many young people went to war in World War II because their government demanded it. Despite that fact the United States has suffered more deaths from COVID-19 than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam war combined, these people do not seem to understand that we are in a war, and that they are being asked to make a very small sacrifice to help win a war.
Of course, the state-by-state correlations noted send an undeniable message: the odds are high that the people who are refusing to get vaccinated voted for Donald Trump.
If the United States wants to achieve herd immunity, it must somehow convince this huge block of Trump-supporting anti-vaxxers to get on board and say yes to the prick.
Say yes to the prick. Hmmm… hey, that gives me an idea!
How can we get Donald Trump himself to aggressively urge his followers to get the vaccine?
It’s not like Donald Trump is an anti-vaxxer. Far from. Fun fact: Donald Trump fashions himself as the grand creator of the vaccines.
Throughout his bungling of the COVID crisis, Donald Trump aggressively sought to take claim for his administration’s one achievement: Trump credited his “Operation Warp Speed” with bringing a COVID-19 vaccine to market faster than anyone had expected.
Trump was unambiguously pro-vaccine when he was campaigning in 2020. On July 18, 2020, he bragged (inaccurately, of course) that “we expect to have 100 million doses of vaccine available before the end of the year and maybe much sooner than that.” Trump frequently made the promise that the vaccines would be ready before election day.
Sure, the vaccine was hardly Trump’s doing, as Pfizer did not even participate in Operation Warp Speed, and it is hard to give Trump a gold star for vaccine development when his administration so comprehensively botched the government response to the pandemic, ignoring the scientists, pretended the virus would “magically disappear,” advocating quack remedies, and, in his neglect, causing the needless death of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Even when discussing the vaccine itself, we must note that Trump didn’t give a sliver of thought to manufacturing, logistics, or distribution.
But let’s be generous and say, sure, Donald, take some credit for helping to bring these life-saving medicines to fruition.
In relatively small, uncelebrated moments, Trump has urged his followers to get the vaccine. On March 16, 2021, Trump did an interview with Maria Bartiromo of Fox, and said this: “I would recommend it. And I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly… It’s a great vaccine, and it’s really safe.” A month later, Trump characterized the vaccines as a “real lifesaver.”
Unfortunately, those moments of lucidity came to an end when Trump finally figured out how to tie the vaccine opposition of his supporters to the “Big Lie.” Just weeks ago, on July 18, Trump declared that “Joe Biden kept talking about how good of a job he's doing on the distribution of the vaccine that was developed by Operation Warp Speed or, quite simply, the Trump Administration. He's not doing well at all. He's way behind schedule, and people are refusing to take the vaccine because they don't trust his administration, they don't trust the election results, and they certainly don't trust the fake news, which is refusing to tell the truth."
So Trump is attempting to preserve his claim to have created the vaccines, is not questioning their efficacy, and is justifying the unwillingness of his supporters to be vaccinated by claiming that their skepticism is a direct outcome of their doubt about the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election win.
For all you hear about Republicans being terrified of Trump’s base, never forget that the Republican who is most terrified of Trump’s base is Trump himself. That is why you don’t hear Trump talking too much about the vaccine issue: just a few months ago, he was screaming to be given all the credit for the development of the vaccines. Now, he sees his own voters rebelling against the vaccines as one more example of progressive socialist incursions on individual rights, and his silence is deafening. Trump is terrified of getting on the wrong side of his own base, because he knows that all his power resides in channeling their anti-government, racist, white supremacist, and xenophobic rage.
Friends, there is a win-win-win here. An answer that is as simple as can be.
All we have to do is leverage Trump's essential greed and understand the essential Trump business model of licensing.
Donald Trump has made millions of dollars, year in and year out, by licensing the Trump brand name to other businesses… Trump Steaks, Trump University, Trump Vodka, in addition to the many golf clubs and resorts. Give the man a way to make easy cash and he can’t resist it.
O.k., let's go with it. Why not have him hawk Trump Vaccine?
More precisely: Donald J. Trump Super-Safe and Effective MAGA COVID-19 Vaccine, Formulated for Republicans Only!
Yes, Democrats... it is time to put the greed of Trump and the ignorance of his base to work in the battle against COVID-19. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer should offer Donald Trump a financial incentive to push his own licensed brand of vaccine. Challenge Trump to sell “Trump Vaccine” in the 25 Red States that (1) have vaccination rates below the national average, and (2) voted for Trump in 2020.
In those 25 states, sell the exact same Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that are available throughout the US, but ship the vials with a different label only… Donald J. Trump Super-Safe and Effective MAGA COVID-19 Vaccine, Formulated for Republicans Only!
Then, let’s create the incentive for Donald Trump to aggressively market the vaccine to his base. Some simple math shows that a total of roughly 141 million Americans live in those 25 states. Let’s say that it takes 75% of the population to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. That means that in order to achieve herd immunity in these Trump states, a total of 106 million people need to be vaccinated…an additional 45 million more than the 60 million that have already been vaccinated in these states.
Let’s tell Donald Trump that he gets fifty cents for every person who gets the Donald J. Trump vaccine.
that’s right. If Donald Trump can convince 45 million Americans in deep
Red States to take the vaccine. That would mean we’d need just 20% more
vaccinated adults out of the 180 million Americans who live in the remainder of
the states to achieve herd immunity… and we'd have the pandemic at bay in the United States. Then, we can our full focus to assisting the rest of the world in the fight.
So, at 50 cents per vaccination in 25 Red States, we’d pay Donald Trump $23 million.
Should we make that deal? In a heartbeat.
$23 million to reach herd immunity? A drop in the bucket. A pittance. One of the best returns-on-investment in the history of mankind.
Hell, we should give him an additional $25,000,000 to advertise his vaccine in those 25 states, so that it happens as quickly as possible.
But wouldn’t that be politically a terrible mistake, you ask? To give Donald Trump credit for helping put America in control of the pandemic?
Crazy as it is, this deal would be a wildly one-sided win for the Democrats. The single most important thing for Joe Biden in 2022 and 2024 is a roaring economy, and clear sense that the pandemic is behind us. Trump may benefit from helping, but if this nutty scenario were to actually take place, it would help Biden and the Democrats exponentially more than Trump. Heck, it would come off as Biden taking the lead, and being willing to make the ultimate “bi-partisan” gesture for the sake of the country.
Letting Trump get free press in 25 states that he won in 2020? That are already wildly loyal to him? Who cares?
The best part? It would put Trump in a bind: if he refuses to help Biden, he would come off as unwilling to help end the pandemic. If he helps Biden and succeeds, we all win. And if he agrees to help Biden and doesn’t come near the goal, he is an ineffective loser.
It would also be fascinating for Trump’s base to watch as Trump tries to hawk the vaccine that they supposedly don’t trust. Do they believe Trump and get vaccinated? Great! Or do they refuse to believe Trump and have their trust in him shattered? Great!
And it’s interesting to think how such an offer would be internalized by one of the greediest, self-centered egomaniacs who ever walked the planet. He’d be turning down a huge branding opportunity. He’d be turning down big money. He’d be turning down an opportunity to be back in the spotlight. He'd be turning down the opportunity to shift the media focus away from his taxes, his many legal issues, and his role in January 6. And the only thing he would have to do is say something he is already saying… that his followers should take the vaccine, because it is safe and effective.
Oh, I know what you are thinking.
You think this idea would never work, because nobody would be ever believe Donald Trump if he said that there was such a thing as a safe, effective, Donald J. Trump MAGA Vaccine formulated for Republicans only.
Puh-lease, people! We are talking about Republicans.
The people who think you can wait until you are being rolled into the ICU on a gurney and then decide to get the vaccine.
The people who voted for Trump after four years of unspeakable incompetence, deceit, racism, misogyny, and corruption.
These are the people who think January 6 was a "peaceful protest."
The people who believe the Big Lie.
Not believe Trump? There is pretty overwhelming proof that a significant percentage of Republicans will believe whatever crazy crap Donald Trump says just because he says it.
Folks, it’s time to take advantage of the fact that Donald Trump will lie to anyone – particularly his own supporters -- for greed and power.
It is time to take advantage of the fact that Republicans are will believe anything he says.
It is time to marshal the powerful forces of ignorance, stupidity, and greed to noble purpose.
Introducing Donald J. Trump Super-Safe and Effective MAGA COVID-19 Vaccine, Formulated for Republicans Only!
For the sake of the health of our families, our seniors, our children, and their children, we need Republicans to once again say yes to the prick.
And get vaccinated, too.
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