As the US faced down a global viral threat two years ago, its people and leaders couldn’t seem more factious and impotent against a shared foe…Two years later, the US has tallied nearly 80 million cases. Nearly 960,000 people—grandparents, parents, siblings, children, infants, precious loved ones all—are dead. Nine hundred and sixty thousand. It’s an unfathomable loss—a toll one might at least hope would stir reconsideration in those not fighting for the greater good. Yet, here we are two years and nearly 1 million deaths later, and many have not changed their positions. Some Americans still deny the devastating realities of the pandemic. Some spread dangerous misinformation, twist facts, and squabble over trivial points as lives hang in the balance.
And some leaders are guilty of far worse. Instead of rising to the occasion, bridging divides, and trying to save the lives of their people, they’ve sought personal and political gain by capitalizing on divisiveness and endangering their constituents.
One of the most prominent examples of this is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Throughout the pandemic, the Republican has pulled stunt after stunt to score political points, pandering to a base that eschews the moral and social responsibility to help protect the health and safety of those around them. DeSantis has fought or hindered masking, vaccine uptake, and physical distancing. He enabled the spread of the dangerous falsehood that a life-saving vaccine against COVID-19 “changes your RNA.” He withheld funding to schools who chose to require masks. He publicly scolded and bullied high school students for wearing them, calling it “theater.”…
As the body count mounts, DeSantis has only grown bolder. On Monday, he trotted out his latest anti-health antic: a roundtable discussion with fringe members of the health and science communities. DeSantis’ guests included Robert Malone, an anti-vaccine advocate who falsely claims he invented mRNA vaccines; Tracy Høeg, who uses her sports medicine credentials to downplay the pandemic; and health economist Jay Bhattacharya, who is a proponent of letting the pandemic coronavirus spread…the false idea that COVID-19 is not a grave threat to public health and thus the virus should be allowed to spread in order for the population to achieve herd immunity.
After more than an hour of fringe talking points, [Floria’s surgeon general, Joseph] Ladapo concluded with the announcement that “the Florida department of health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children.”…The recommendation, of course, contradicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends everyone ages 5 and up get a COVID-19 vaccine.
There are few creatures I hold with more contempt than opportunist politicians. That species willing to endanger the lives of their electorate and families…in crude lies trying to reinforce “value”, somehow, to voters.