Monday, June 7, 2021

Monday Reading


As always, please go to the links for the full articles/ op eds. 

Vaccine hesitancy/ resistance is... a problem:

Plummeting vaccination rates have turned what officials hoped would be the “last mile” of the coronavirus immunization campaign into a marathon, threatening President Biden’s goal of getting shots to at least 70 percent of adults by July 4.

The United States is averaging fewer than 1 million shots per day, a decline of more than two-thirds from the peak of 3.4 million in April, according to The Washington Post’s seven-day analysis, even though all adults and children over age 12 are now eligible. [snip]

The slowdown is national — with every state down at least two-thirds from its peak — and particularly felt across the South and Midwest. Twelve states, including Utah, Oklahoma, Montana, the Dakotas and West Virginia, have seen vaccinations fall below 15 daily shots per 10,000 residents; Alabama had just four people per 10,000 residents get vaccinated last week.

But the picture varies considerably across the country: Thirteen mostly East and West Coast states have already vaccinated 70 percent of adult residents, and another 15 states, plus the District of Columbia, are over 60 percent and will likely reach Biden’s goal.

The rest are lagging behind. Tennessee and five other states are at 50 percent or below and vaccinating at such low rates that meeting the president’s threshold is very unlikely.

The steep decline began in mid-April, coinciding with federal officials’ temporary suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while they probed rare blood-clotting reactions. That slowdown has continued, with only 2.4 million adults getting their first shot last week. Officials must get a first dose to 4.2 million adults per week to meet Biden’s goal of ensuring that 70 percent of adults are at least partially vaccinated by Independence Day.  (our emphasis)

There's not much doubt for us that the suspension of the J&J vaccine just as vaccination rates were climbing and confidence in vaccinations was building was a major error, an overreaction to an extremely rare reaction that gave vaccine- hesitant people a reason not to get their shot, or at least indefinitely delay the decision.

The problem is particularly critical in vulnerable populations:

Less than a quarter of Black Americans had received their first Covid-19 shot as of June 3, amid a weekslong stagnation that has defied the government’s ramped-up effort to accelerate vaccinations and reach the nation’s most vulnerable communities.

The slowdown has put Black Americans behind the pace set over the past month by other racial and ethnic groups tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The trend line worries health officials and experts who say the immunization drive is running into a particularly complex web of distrust, outreach challenges and stubborn barriers to access. [snip]

“We still have some places where the past history of bias, discrimination and hate has just caused such an ingrained mistrust of political and social structures that it’s hard to break through that,” said James Hildreth, CEO of Meharry Medical College and a task force member. “We need to make a stronger effort to bring the vaccine to the communities, rather than relying on the communities to come to vaccination centers.”

Joel Mathis posits that the Republicans just might be engaging in one of the biggest self- owns in American political history:

...[I]n so openly working to tilt the playing field in their favor, Republicans may already be convincing American voters the party can't win the White House without a little funny business. In that case, the party will have created a crisis of legitimacy for itself when it next takes power. That would be a massive self-own — darkly amusing, if the possible consequences weren't so serious.

Legitimacy matters. All governments depend on some mix of coercion (laws, prisons, taxes, police) and public acceptance of a regime's right to rule. When you have more of the latter, you often need less of the former. And when government's legitimacy falters, unrest can often follow — witness last summer's Black Lives Matter protests after the police murder of George Floyd. The balance is a living thing, always in flux.

In a democracy, nothing undermines legitimacy faster than the public's sense that its leaders didn't follow the rules while acquiring power. Indeed, Trump has already created both an outright insurrection and an ongoing crisis for President Biden by convincing so many of his followers — falsely, egregiously — that Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election. The shocking revelation of the Trump Era is that it takes only one particularly bold liar to threaten the underpinnings of a government that couldn't even be undone by the horrors of the Civil War.

As Mathis notes, it's no comfort that the (horrible) prospect of a future Republican governance would have called upon itself the illegitimacy it perennially seeks to pin on Democratic administrations. The instability ushered in by such a scenario is not something to be wished for.

In the meantime, Perry Bacon says there are six things that "small d democrats" need to do to turn the tide on the Republican assault on our democracy:

Having a functioning democracy isn’t just about electoral rules. But core democratic principles include every citizen having an equal, unhindered right to vote, elections being administered freely and fairly, and political parties respecting the outcomes of those elections. We often think of democracy as binary — a political system is either democratic or it isn’t — but scholars view democracy as a continuum. And right now, as Republicans keep undermining our election system, America is becoming less democratic.

That’s an existential crisis, and it should be treated like one. At least six things are needed to turn the tide. [snip]

I know some of these six are unrealistic. But I think we need all six to happen, because the problem we face is so big: Top officials in one of our two political parties, and perhaps a majority of its voters, are embracing undemocratic steps to preserve their power. America needs a huge coalition of small-d democrats — Democratic, Republican and independent — to come together to stop this anti-democratic drift.

We left out the six things so you'll just have to go to the link to see what he's proposing!

Finally, please do yourself a favor by heading over to Infidel 753's link round-up for the best collection of links to interesting posts from around the Internet. That's all we ask.

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