Conservatives Aren't Skeptical Of Government, They're Skeptical Of Altruism
One thing we forget is that in the early days of the pandemic, conservatives were eager to get on the mask-wearing train — so much so, in fact, that we were in danger of not having enough masks for frontline workers. Anthony Fauci even ended up just telling people not to wear masks, just to get them to stop trying to scoop them up. Soon after, when it was revealed that asymptomatic people could spread COVID-19 without realizing they had it, that masks could make that less likely, and when the scientists changed their tune, the actual resistance began. When they thought the masks would protect them, they were all in. When it became "Wear this mask to protect other people from you, in case you have COVID and don't know it," they were out.
This weekend, in an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Arkansas GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson lamented that half of all Trump supporters have said they won't get a vaccine. When asked by host Dana Bash why that was, he suggested it was due in part to "a natural resistance to government and skepticism of it."
"Well I've thought a lot about that and I think it's a natural resistance to government and skepticism of it. But you look at the breadth of support here in Arkansas for President Trump, and you have rural voters, you have minority voters and their hesitancy is worrisome, not just here but all across the country," Hutchinson said.
"And I expect, as a country, we'll get the 50 percent vaccination rate of the population, but we're going to have a harder time getting from 50 percent to 70 percent, and it's about overcoming the skepticism," he added.
That, if I may be so bold, is absolute bullshit.
Conservatives are highly selective when it comes to being skeptical of "government." They're not skeptical of "government" when the government wants to invade other countries. They love "big government" when "big government" is spending $80 billion a year to keep 2.3 million people incarcerated, and they love it when those people are incarcerated for non-violent crimes. They definitely want "big government" right up in every uterus in America, and they fully support "big government" when it comes to policing people's sexual orientations, romantic choices, gender, etc.
What conservatives don't like is when government is used to help people who are not just like them. The vaccine is being marketed as a way for all of us to be able to get back to normal while keeping each other safe, ideally achieving herd immunity. It's also free to anyone who needs it. There's no element of selfishness involved here, and the vaccines are even being triaged to make sure those who need them the most get them first. Conservatives don't want that. They want the vaccines to feel like they are for fancy people only, they want to be told "We're not gonna give them to X group of people, because they're not as good as you are." If you were to tell them "Liberals don't think you deserve a vaccine! They think they're better than you! They want you to die of COVID so they can replace you with an immigrant of your least favorite nationality," they would be out the door in two seconds flat.
But ultimately, I don't think we actually have to worry about conservatives not getting the vaccine. They're just holding their breath and throwing a tantrum because they're mad Trump isn't president anymore and they think this is a way to punish us. They'll get it, because at the end of the day, they'll put their own self-interest first.
And hey! If it turns out I'm wrong and they end up actually still refusing to get the vaccine, all we really have to do to get them get one is to cancel it for being racist.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse