Scientifically speaking, the one thing Covid-19 has proven itself most effective at killing – other than unvaccinated people – is right-wing bullshit.
People with right-leaning politics in the US, Britain and other countries are literally willing to put their lives on the line, rather than wear masks or get vaccinated. Every day, there are new stories about virulent anti-vaxxers dying of Coronavirus. These articles invariably contain quotes from the victim, where they’ve ranted against vaccines and downplayed the risks of the virus on social media.
But why? It makes no sense.
What’s in it for them? Why are they so dedicated to a position that holds no obvious advantage and potentially puts their own lives at risk?
Are they stupid? Well, yes… but it’s a willful stupidity. From their perspective – ironically – this is a question of survival. Not like, physical survival, because a lot of them are definitely going to get sick and die. No, this isn’t a matter of life and death for individual human beings, it’s about the viability of their tribe.
Conservatives can’t afford to acknowledge Covid as a real threat and vaccines and public health mandates as simple, life-saving solutions to that threat because to do so would demolish the most cherished core principle of their ideology: that individual freedoms are more important than the collective good.
This only makes sense if you think of the communal good as a bad thing.
We are not all in this together – that is the path to communism. It’s every man for himself out there. Modern conservativism is all about putting yourself first. Government is a necessary evil, which mostly stands as an impediment to your individual freedoms. People are almost always better off with as little government intervention as possible.
How can you subscribe to Ronald Reagan’s bedrock philosophy that “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help'” and get vaccinated when that vaccine was financed by public money?
How can you tolerate the government forcing you to wear a mask, when doing so would be an acknowledgment that your actions – even the act of your breathing – affects others? Let them protect themselves! I’ve got Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin.
How can you listen to doctors and scientists about things like viral loads and achieving herd immunity, when your entire political ethos is built upon the idea that experts are just overly-educated eggheads and bureaucrats trying to interfere in your personal business?
How dare the government try to save your life?
Covid demolishes right-wing bullshit. Guns are useless against the coronavirus. Our almighty police and army are powerless against it. It kills more people than crime or terrorism. It ruthlessly distracts our attention from black-on-black crime in Chicago, Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter protests and a million other conservative boogeyman issues.
And it can only be defeated if we all work together, with a strong central government and a robust, well-financed health care system.
Coronavirus changes everything, but rather than accept this new reality, right-wingers feel they have no choice but to put their fingers in their ears and shout “NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”. Really, what else can they do? Because if people start to acknowledge that those egg-heads are right about this, well then people might start listening to them about other things too – like climate change being real, that Trump really did lose the 2020 election, that gun control saves lives and that Brexit has been a huge financial blunder.
So really there’s no option left but the sacrifice play. The kamikaze move. Destroying the country in order to save it. It doesn’t matter how many people die, the talking points must live on.
Admitting that the only way to tackle Covid-19 is through collective, rather than individual action, would require seeing the fatal flaw in the soul of conservatism.
And for the party faithful, that would be a fate worse than death.