Home / General / America’s dumbest senator doesn’t understand how vaccines work or why anyone would prefer that fewer people die from COVID

America’s dumbest senator doesn’t understand how vaccines work or why anyone would prefer that fewer people die from COVID


Watching reactionary libertarians try to think through COVID-19 related issues is almost painful:

If you’re reading this, you should by now understand vaccinations are useful and what their intent is, even if you’re still concerned about getting one. It’s not complicated: If you lock more doors and windows, it’s harder for a thief to get into your house.

Yet this is still baffling to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), or so he told an interviewer. As Forbes reported Friday, he recently told a radio host that he saw “no reason to be pushing vaccines on people.”

“If you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” he asked rhetorically.

There are a few answers to that, as it turns out.

One is that maybe you don’t want your neighbor to die. Perhaps the senator has a less cordial relationship with his neighbors than I do — he wouldn’t be the only one.

Another answer is that if his neighbor gets sick and further infects other people, those are lost hours of employment that could, in the aggregate, hurt the economy. That neighbor could wind up in the hospital emergency room, filling a bed that someone who has been vaccinated might need, such as after a car accident.

A third answer to Johnson’s question is that some people can’t get the vaccine or haven’t gotten it yet, and if your neighbor gets the vaccine, that closes another door to the virus. Johnson is a grandparent to two young children. The more of their neighbors who go unvaccinated, the more likely it is that those kids might contract the virus and the disease it causes, covid-19. Sure, it’s far less deadly for little kids, but as a parent of two little kids myself, I can assure you I’d nonetheless prefer they not get sick, regardless.

And, of course, Johnson’s alleged skepticism about the efficacy of COVID-19 remedies is, ah, highly selective:

The insinuation that there’s something potentially risky about the vaccine because it was authorized under an emergency-use authority is somewhat hard to take at face value, given that Johnson was defending the use of hydroxychloroquine, at one point similarly authorized, last year — and not just in March and April of last year but in November, after numerous studies undercut the idea that it offered a significant benefit. The benefits of the coronavirus vaccines, by contrast, are by now obvious.

At any rate, even leaving aside the fact that vaccinations increase in value the more people have them, it is indeed remarkable how many Republicans genuinely do not understand why people would like there to be fewer people dying from COVID even if they are themselves protected. And it’s scary that American political institutions overrepresent this bizarre solipsistic death cult at every level.

Relatedly, as Paul said yesterday you have exactly as much “right” to walk into a public building unvaccinated as you have the “right” to drive while intoxicated. To treat vaccination as a matter of pure personal consumer choice is transparently stupid.

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