The US has never been as divided as it is today, as is evident from the violence that permeates any and almost every demonstration, from California all the way to Washington, DC.
Political polarization has become part of people’s daily lives: If you are not with us, you are against us. Fed by politicians and the media on both sides, Republican and Democrat, Americans are divided over racism, gender identity, education, even their own flag.
While the world is still struggling with the coronavirus, its different variants, and vaccine shortages, a new conflict has begun between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
The politicization of the pandemic has had a huge impact on how people view vaccines, and how much they trust their government when it comes to important health issues.
The Biden administration has been working relentlessly to increase the number of vaccinated people, but ayear ago the majority of Democratic politicians were skeptical about a vaccine developed during the Trump era. “We are delivering lifesaving therapies. And we’ll produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner,” Donald Trump said on the White House lawn in August 2020. When he said the US could havea safe and effective vaccine before the Nov. 3 presidential election, Trump was accused of using the struggle of the American people for political gain.
Although he was briefed by experts on the development of a vaccine for COVID-19, presidential candidate Joe Biden downplayed the importance of this announcement. “Let me be clear. I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump. And at this moment, the American people can’t either," he said.
Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris echoed his talking points when she appeared on CNN in September 2020 and said she would not take Trump’s word. “I would not trust Donald Trump, and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about,” Harris said, linking the vaccine with the presidential election.
Before the election, the Democrats were worried that if a vaccine were developed before November, it would be a huge boost for the Republicans.
Trump did not help himself or his supporters by continually downplaying the danger of this lethal virus, even after he was infected himself. Ill-advised, he constantly implied that wearing a mask was a sign of weakness, as his supporters showed during his campaign rallies.
Supporters of both parties were confused about the vaccine, while politicians on the left insisted that anything that came from the Trump Administration could not be trusted, pushing their supporters to be skeptical about avaccine.
In a crucial election year, Democrats did not hesitate to manipulate the pandemic to fit their electoral agenda. For example, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is now promoting the vaccine in her district andcheering the idea that everyone who is vaccinated should receive $100, is the same person who less than a year ago was unwilling to be vaccinated herself — and for only one reason. “We can’t trust the president and take his word and take a vaccine that might cause harm to us. We know that every single thing he does is geared toward winning an election. That is why he’s downplayed this pandemic. That is why he's overseen the deaths of 200,000 Americans,” she said.
Politics has crept into this most significant threat to global health, derailing public confidence in the decisions of their governments. Demonizing the unvaccinated has become the norm in US society while many Americans, mainly Republicans, feels that their civil liberties are being infringed by forcing them to take the vaccine or face dire consequences in their workplace or in their way of life.
Meanwhile, amid all the COVID restrictions, the Biden administration could not — or would not — answer a simple question: What steps have been taken to contain the pandemic on the US southern border? The answer is: None. There are no tests and no vaccines for the migrants entering the country illegally through the US-Mexican border.
In the end, the Democrats plan to benefit from the pandemic at the 2022 midterm elections with their policies of giveaways, rent pardons, and stimulus checks in the name of COVID-19.
Who would not vote for that?
Sadly, the pandemic is the most valuable gift the Democrats have ever received.
• Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi
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