Dying for Your Beliefs?

The fatality rates of diseases, at least in theory, shouldn’t have any connection with political beliefs. That’s in theory, but since this past June, that theory has been proven wrong.

Since Delta began circulating widely in the U.S., COVID has exacted a horrific death toll on counties where Donald Trump received at least 70 percent of the vote, killing 47 out of every 100,000 people since the end of June. In counties where Trump won less than 32 percent of the vote, the number is about 10 out of 100,000.

In October, twenty-five (25) out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from COVID, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.

Is this a lethal political litmus test? In a way it is. Because of the vast amount of COVID misinformation circulated and accepted by Republicans, or for other factors unique to Republicans, they are far less likely to get vaccinated, and vaccination keeps the vast majority of those vaccinated from being hospitalized or dying from COVID.

A late October poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor found that 39% of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, while just 10% of Democratic adults were unvaccinated.

Yet depending on the state and the statistics, between 89% and 98% of patients hospitalized for COVID are unvaccinated, and the current number of U.S. COVID fatalities is now at 751,000 and continuing to grow.

What I want to know is why so many Republicans believe that dying for the freedom not to be vaccinated is so glorious.

31 thoughts on “Dying for Your Beliefs?”

  1. Wine Guy says:

    These numbers are grim, whether a person is a Democrat or a Republican. When this is coupled with certain specialty populations, such as law enforcement personnel (more police officers have died from COVID than from accidents or bullets), it paints a dire picture for the future of this country.

  2. R. Hamilton says:

    Sounds like a perfect example of one of the previous posts…about cherry-picking numbers, I think it was.

    Leftists are ALL enemies of liberty (not that there aren’t other enemies of liberty from time to time) – or fools. That doesn’t make fools of any ideology friends of liberty by any means. Anyone who hasn’t read the Constitution and Federalist papers (and, to be sure, enough history to be aware that we’ve not done a stellar job of living up to it, or overcoming one flaw that compromise left in for a later generation to fight a civil war and continue to struggle with the aftermath) should just leave, and move to China or Cuba or the like if they imagine such to be better (WHY is Bernie still here since he admired Stalin and Castro so much?); sadly, such documents also prevent actually sending citizens away involuntarily; one of the vulnerable spots of liberty is that enough people have to USE their brains for something other than keeping their skulls from imploding, or it’s at risk of being lost.

    The point remains that anyone that would issue mandates should be removed from office. Free people should never tolerate being ordered around, certainly not for more than a very limited amount of time REGARDLESS of the duration of any emergency, however real. That has NOTHING to do with having the common sense to do something even IF you’re told to, BTW.

    (Fully vaccinated including booster > 2 weeks ago AND flu shot here, just so I can be around to continue taking metaphorical potshots at leftists for many years to come; it’ll be a cold day in heck before I give such as them a free “I told you so”. And I dialed this post WAY back compared to how I really feel.)

    1. Shannon says:

      If I could figure out a way, I’d move to the Netherlands or a similar country but emigrating to a country that has a functioning support system isn’t that easy. So I’m stuck with staying here and trying to improve the place. Some of us consider it the government’s job to look out for the interests of society as a whole. Freedom is all well and good until your freedom infringes on my freedom.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        I have no interest in using my freedom to beat you down or even infect you; regardless of vaccination status, I’d rather not get near enough to any stranger for much risk. What I want my freedom for is to make most of my own choices and otherwise be LEFT ALONE.

        If you think that harms you…you’re harming me.

        1. Ryan Patrick Jackson says:

          Except you’ve lived in a county that “Forces” vaccines for decades.

          Have to be vaccinated to enroll in schools.

          Have to get vaccinated if you’re military.

          I’ve never seen you making raging statements against the forced vaccinations of children for every other vaccine they have to take.

          It’s as if this specific issue is being used as a soapbox in a less than genuine manner.

    2. Ryan Patrick Jackson says:

      You just quoted the Federalist papers in suggestion that they support your stance?

      Hamilton wanted a great deal MORE federal control. I know there’s some debate if his stances at the continental congress were deliberate to make Madison’s seem more reasonable, but even that aside… Drawing parallels would put the Federalists as the Left and the Democratic-Republicans as the Right.

  3. R. Hamilton says:

    Just realized something: mandates may be a subtle conspiracy to do away with those who fall for the trap of opposing them by doing the opposite, rather than opposing them by making their own informed decision without regard to whether that is either consistent with or contrary to a mandate.

    Except there’s no way I think Biden has enough non-senile brain cells left to think of something that Machiavellian. But since leftists are totalitarians at heart, some other leftists may well have thought of it. Probably leftover KGB agents or collaborators (prevalent in media, academia, and government) that never got the word that the USSR collapsed (the real reason the left doesn’t like Putin, not that he’s a totalitarian, but that he’s a Putinist and not a communist anymore).

    1. Ryan Patrick Jackson says:

      The vaccine mandate is a super secret ploy to force the right to not get vaccinated and die so the left can take power…

      Well, my days of not taking you seriously definitely coming to a middle…

  4. Postagoras says:

    Because humans stink at understanding risk. Rustles of bushes or bumps in the night cause fear. Mortality statistics don’t cause fear.
    Many people feel personally strong when “the odds are against them.” It’s a kind of magical thinking. Because of the nature of probability, this can appear to work.
    This kind of “daring the odds” is the basis of a lot of heroic storytelling. It’s very popular.
    In the case of the Republicans, this feeling of strength also made them feel superior to the libs.
    That’s why your recap of the grim mortality statistics won’t hit home.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      Not buying it. I think risk without compelling purpose is stupid, but don’t like being told what to do by anybody. However, unlike a few, I’m not quite stupid enough to refuse to do something JUST because I’m told to.

      I don’t especially care if stranger’s non-vaccinated risk puts me at greater risk; even without pandemic I think all strangers are potential sickos (or saints, or probably neither, but I don’t know so I have to assume the worst) both physically, behaviorally, and otherwise. Managing my risk is almost entirely MY responsibility, and their risk is theirs, not mine unless I’m actually taking aim at them, which I won’t except to protect myself or someone else.

      I somewhat more identify with the notion that nobody better endanger someone I care about; that would get me mad. But the world is full of fools and d@mnfools, and I can’t afford to stay mad all the time, especially at something difficult to attribute to individuals rather than groups/statistics.

      I have no problem with voluntary cooperativism, but authoritarian collectivists (the left, for starters) should be separated from the society of free and self-empowering humans.

  5. MRE says:

    What I’m left to wonder is whether this type of behavior is the result of long-standing political pressures that are expressing themselves in idiotically self-destructive ways (not to mention the negative externalities on the rest of society, which is the true cost being paid by our polity), or if these pressures are being genuinely driven by social media and other misinformation outlets to rise to such levels of self-delusion. I fear it’s the former even as I hope the latter can be blamed. Because if it’s the latter, we have some hope of either regulating it, or having market forces adjust over time.

    It certainly suggests to me that the US is no different from Latin America or pre-WWII Germany in their willingness to embrace moronic demagogues selling fantastical thinking and transparent hucksterism. It appears like the desire to blame others for absolutely everything while in defense of some imaginary inviolable principle (such as excoriating vaccine mandates while utterly refusing to explain how all previous mandates were able to exist without the total and instant death of liberty and the American experiment) is going to be how history repeats itself. Except Marx had it wrong, it’s not tragedy followed by farce, rather it is both at the very same time!

    I’d always assumed the high level of education in the US had inoculated us against this kind of stupidity. But I suppose once someone’s identity–either liberal/woke or conservative/libertarian–becomes more important than actual policies, this is the logical conclusion. Anger and outrage at not having their every principle and personal belief kowtowed to by the other side is pushing both to elect leaders advocating fewer content-based policies and more a willingness to hurt the “other.” Hopefully we can get over this hump of ugliness and get back to electing boring politicians we can ignore. But with Trump waiting in the wings like a long-haul case of Covid, I have my doubts.

    1. Bill says:

      I think you hit the issue on the head when you said people wanting to blame others for their problems. This perspective has not traditionally been the characteristic of any party or political alignment but some of the current Republicans demagogues have found that people who want to blame others for their misfortune in life are easier to excite with very simple solutions that put the blame on others such as building the wall or blaming activity on a conspiracy.
      We also need to recognize that Covid whether someone believes in it or not is stressing everyone out. It is hard to have a conversation instead of an argument when you are stressed.

    2. M Kilian says:

      I think that the behaviour is just far easier to witness not just locally but abroad. Mob mentality during disaster, or rather during a time of great fear is well documented throughout history, with plagues being particularly relevant. What is somewhat newer is people’s ability to witness lies being told by figures of informational authority, such as government, health organisations in this case and of course of media in providing people with what the government is doing.

      There are many, many examples of people who are vocally pro-covax on social media or in mainstream media who were vehemently anti-covax back when it was “Trump’s” vaccines because of Operation Warp Speed that he enacted before he lost the presidency. So indeed, political affiliation seems to matter far, far more than facts or truths to the mainstream.

      If Trump had won the 2020 election, I have no doubt that the roles of pro-covax and anti-covax majority would be flipped, with Trump supporters touting the efficacy and validity of the covid vaccines and touting up mandates while anti-Trump voices would be spurring skepticism and non-compliance.

      You’re right though, we’re definitely on the spiral slide downwards as populism rises and demagogues of both sides are put on pedestals like never before, simply for not being the other.

      The pre-WW2 Germany bit hits particularly hard, considering the use of disgust and fear by the Nazi Government to push the majority of Germans to overlook the atrocities being committed against the few for the safety of the many. I assume the USSR had similar analogue as well, to shift blame from the government and give the people an “other” to blame.

      1. Joe says:

        If Trump had won the 2020 election, I have no doubt that the roles of pro-covax and anti-covax majority would be flipped, with Trump supporters touting the efficacy and validity of the covid vaccines and touting up mandates while anti-Trump voices would be spurring skepticism and non-compliance.

        Absolutely. It’s really annoying since it prevents everyone else from having good faith discussions about the risk/benefit trade-off of proposed solutions. Instead, depending on what one ends up concluding, one is lumped with whichever group of political maniacs has adopted that position as a cult.

  6. Frank says:

    It seems to me that the participants in this blog, especially those who participate in argument/discussions that expose their political viewpoints as counterpoint to differing opinions, are missing and/or demonstrating a very basic point. That point being that rigorous discussion between competing ideas is healthy, and very “American.” And one of my biggest concerns is that our society has moved into such a position that these “discussions” are no longer about the ideas, but are now name calling and character assassination exercises that seem to disallow the true comparative analysis of the differing ideas. There are no more “loyal oppositions” because if you don’t agree with me you are plainly stupid, insane, or evil in some way. Statements like “Leftist are all enemies of liberty…” assumes so much as to be nonsensical and inflammatory on an emotional level. What is a Leftist? If that means someone who is Left of the way the author of the statement sees as “correct,” then a large portion of our country, as well as most civilized countries, are “Leftists,” and the statement is such a broad-swathed over simplification as to be effective only as an emotional gauntlet laid down to cause pain or to goad a fight.

    We need a lot of changes in the way we go about governing ourselves, and I think the first change should be getting back to being “civilized” enough to be able to discuss our differences without name calling and character assassination. Trump may have brought this miasma to the forefront, and he is, IMO, a carnival barker version of a leader, but, this has been building for quite some time. And it needs to stop and be reversed. Give me Reagan, Eisenhower, Kennedy, George H. Bush, Clinton, Obama…they cover a wide cross section of Left to Right, but they all governed with some civility and class.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      Anyone who believes in government as a more than occasional way of solving big problems is a leftist. Anyone who believes the individual is broadly subordinate to the collective is an authoritarian, and usually a leftist; or rather, they believe everyone should be subordinate to THEIR power. There are other kinds of authoritarians as history progresses, but the left is today’s principal evil.

      I’ve seen commie propaganda directly from the source, and other anti western conversations when the anti westerners were talking to each other and didn’t realize we were listening. I think all enemies of western civilization or MINIMALLY regulated capitalism should be pre-emptively neutralized as the logistics and opportunity allow..

      Most of the garbage that Antifa, BLM, a large slice of academia and the media push is JUST recycled KGB propaganda. As such, it’s at best crazy to imagine that following it would be in our interests.

      Political compromise IS possible…when BOTH sides put the common interests first. You want compromise, get rid of The Squad and similar-minded influences.

      1. Joe says:

        Authoritarianism occurs both on the left and the right: Stalinism, Nazis, Imperial Japan, Feudal Europe.

        Collectivism occurs both on the left and the right: Stalinism, Nazis, …

        An interesting documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpjz-wK5lrA

        You may notice the similarities and differences to movements of our time.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          There are lots of leftist collectivists and authoritarians, and very few right wing ones in western countries, give or take very small numbers of nut jobs (all the “white supremacists” and other largely straw man monsters in the country could barely fill a good size beer hall, let alone a stadium – a tiny number for a country of over 300 million, whereas every darn campus is loaded with folks that admire various communist mass murderers, and Congress even has a few in it).

          To say that evil exists across all ideologies is in principle true enough, but in practice, in any particular era it concentrates in particular ones. Whether you call it left or right, to believe that institutions are superior to individuals or are the focus of solving big problems or deciding which big problems to solve is to believe that power should end up in the hands of people who have more ambition than judgement or decency. ALL VIRTUE IS INDIVIDUAL, or nonexistent, period. Likewise the start of all solutions is with individuals, not institutions. Some problems are too big for any one person, so people COOPERATE, but very few situations require COMPELLING anyone to cooperate. I’d argue that none really do; if we’re too dumb in aggregate for enough to do the right thing individually, we don’t deserve to survive as a species – that’s assuming one thinks that claimed big problems like “climate change” are not only real but worst case if we don’t act.

          1. Joe says:

            There are lots of leftist collectivists and authoritarians, and very few right wing ones in western countries

            Bush 2’s statement that “You’re either with us or against us” was authoritarian. So was Biden’s statement “Our patience is wearing thin.” So I disagree. I think many “mainstream” Democrat and Republican politicians have authoritarian tendencies. I think it is a mistake to conflate the dimension of authoritarianism with that of left-right.

            Systemic problems are impossible for individuals to solve. A simple example is that modern telecommunications are only available because everyone pays for them. The cost of technological development and of the infrastructure would be prohibitive for only the rich to afford. The same is true for the availability of roads, gasoline, an educated workforce, etc. The rich/successful too easily forget that.

            We are interdependent, and individuals matter, both, simultaneously. A philosophy that emphasizes one simple view, be it Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, or Nietzsche, or Marx, or the postmodern stuff, has the merit of being easy to understand, and the major flaw of not according with reality, thereby leading to poor results.

            That documentary is really worth listening to.

    2. Ryan Patrick Jackson says:

      I’d add a caveat. Discussion is great, but when the facts are clear and one side is showing at best faulty moral and ethical concern, there’s no point to a discussion.

      Let’s look at an honest Left/Right debate.
      Reducing Gun Deaths: Is this best served by limiting access to firearms? Or increasing Firearms safety, training and knowledge? Or both? There’s statistics and facts and logical arguments to both directions and a discussion is awesome.

      Should we move to Green Energy at a much more rapid pace? There’s not a debate here, the people fighting not to are literally killing the planet and the science backs it. There’s no discussion to be had.

      So yes, when people disagree, talk, because it’s better than violence. But if the facts show clearly that one side or another is right, that’s got to be the end of it.

      1. M Kilian says:

        Even the latter one is far more faceted than would appear on the surface. Many electrically driven motorized machines require specialised battery technology to operate anywhere near the efficacy of petroleum tier fuel, and that battery technology requires strip mining and insane levels of pollution to produce at the rate we have been- which are some of the worst contributors to climate change.

        Caveats like this are exactly why we still need discussion. We can’t fight climate change by only ever focusing on global warming. Global warming has nothing to do with deep sea trawling, nor soil erosion, and even most forms of land poisoning don’t factor into global warming directly. Yet that’s all is allowed in political discourse, the rest would bite into agribusiness which is a whole layer of hell all on its own.

      2. M Kilian says:

        Also, and sorry to double post, but one thing that in particular Modesitt’s Sci-Fi books really put into perspective to me, was the idea of energy diseconomies. How much potential power does it take to make a solar panel versus the amount of potential energy it’ll generate over its lifetime that can be used? How much energy would it take to reclaim it after it’s failed, or at least repurpose it?

        How much energy does it take to make the replacement parts that wind turbines constantly require to be changed in order to keep generating electricity that can be used?

        At every level when talking about power generation methods as alternatives to fossil fuels, we should be first asking whether the production, manufacturing and transportation of the constituent parts that go into those generators actually reduce reliance on fossil fuels, or if we’re just propping them up by using the latent energy potential in fossil fuels but redirecting it more to heavy machinery and transportation and plastics, etcetera ad nauseum. It’s not as clear cut and dried as I thought it would be when I was a kid.

    3. M Kilian says:

      I find that many people think that the last good president the US had was Teddy, and so much work has been done over many presidencies to try and undo the bit of good he was able organize during his leadership. Both partisanship and bipartisanship, and honestly just the two party system has been a disaster for democratic method to achieve a meaningful republic.

      I try to talk here more often as a third positionist who tries not to cater to either right or left ideology, but I often feel quite juvenile in the presence of LEM for whom I hold a great degree of respect for from the maturity of his writing and experience. Even if there’s as much I don’t agree with as I do agree with.

  7. Joe says:

    What I want to know is why so many Republicans believe that dying for the freedom not to be vaccinated is so glorious.

    “Vaccinated” is being redefined from “had 2 doses” to “had 2 doses, and boosters every 6 months since”.

    Let’s remember what the CDC was telling us not very long ago:

    https://twitter.com/therecount/status/1376950399232573442?s=20

    This sort of thing loses trust, and arguments such as “The science changed” ring hollow, since the Science did not actually change. What changed is the tune of those placed in authority, how they spinned what they were told. That’s quite different. This week, the CDC is suddenly claiming herd immunity is no longer a goal. Bill Gates now says we have the wrong kinds of vaccines since they don’t prevent transmission. People notice when appointed “experts” say one thing with great certainty, and then the opposite with equally great authority. This loses trust. Instead of building trust, and unity as he said he would, Biden & co are trying to force vaccinations. That’s authoritarian, and presumes they know better. Obviously much of the population disagrees he knows better, and authoritarianism doesn’t convince anyone.

    Since most Republicans have noticed that not all is well in the Kingdom of Denmark, and since they have no trust in the current government, they are resisting vaccination. Most people are sufficiently canny to not do whatever people they do not trust recommend… (D’oh!).

    The sad thing about it is that this will spill over into resistance to vaccination against all other diseases, at a time when pandemics are expected to increase due to a warming climate, and probably more hatred of Science and scientists.

    1. John says:

      Every three years the American Academy of Pediatrics publishes a book called “The Red Book” (no it’s not by Carl Jung). This book is a reference to the “manifestations, etiology, epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment to over 200 of the major infectious diseases”. You will find this book on the shelf of every pediatrian and family physician. It is an invaluable resource that distills decades of research by thousands of people into a few pages on each disease.
      I get the impression that many people feel that when a new disease appears, a new chapter magically appears in The Red Book and physicians just have to look it up and everything about the illness is there.
      This is not how it works.
      It takes decades of work to understand an illness. Unfortunately, we do not have decades and the CDC has to make decisions based on what they know at that moment. In fact, the quote you linked too starts out by saying “from what we know right now.
      Many of the things you mention like shots every 6 months and herd immunity not being a goal are just speculation. We really don’t have enough information to know (and BTW, Bill Gates does not know what he is talking about)
      We are in the middle of a pandemic and we are doing so well that people have the time to whine and complain about their rights and freedoms instead of worrying whether they and their loved ones will make it till morning. I don’t think people know how close we were to overloaded hospitals and backhoes digging mass graves.

      1. Joe says:

        Not speculation.

        Shots every 6 months is now required in France and Israel. I don’t see why the US will be any different since the US isn’t magically protected.

        CDC on herd immunity:

        https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-11-12/cdc-shifts-pandemic-goals-away-from-reaching-herd-immunity

    2. Joe says:

      Here’s someone else’s answer:

      https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/science/articles/needle-points-vaccinations-chapter-one

      It also explains why people are so sure they are right.

  8. R. Hamilton says:

    Every politician and most business leaders are vulnerable to becoming authoritarian. But “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” was foreign policy, while “our patience is wearing thin” was domestic, BIG difference. Foreign adversaries have no rights, give or take the Geneva Convention. Citizens have rights, and along to a lesser degree with non-citizens lawfully present, and to a still lesser degree with persons not lawfully present (pending deportation!), are the only ones a government needs to be responsible to; the rest are foreign cooperators, competitors, or adversaries, and the only acceptable relationship with the latter two categories is to WIN.

  9. Richard Phipps says:

    From my perspective here in England I find it slightly baffling how Democrats can be seen as Leftists (and vilified as such). Both Republicans and Democrats are right wing compared to mainstream european parties.

  10. Julie Wright says:

    Hi Lee,
    I came by because I’ve been thinking about you lately and hoping you were doing well. As one who is an independent voter, I wish I understood why vaccinations have become so political as well. I have several people in my personal life who are no longer here because “no government is going to tell me what to do.” It makes me truly sad because these were people I cared about, and now they are gone. And they’ve left families who mourn them.
    As always, I enjoy your point of view.

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