That’s not a question; it’s an answer.

In a greatly insightful essay What Causes Vaccine Hesitancy? authors Anita Sreedhar and Anand Gopal set out to answer their own question.* Do millions refuse vaccines because they are self-centered, interested only in themselves? Are they just proudly stubborn? Are they willfully ignorant? And does the answer to the authors’ question have implications for other things? Whatever your notions, the authors offer a serious and well grounded answer.

Social services have been incremantally cut back for over 40 years, sometimes under the patriotic sounding term “privatization.” What that means to people is this: worse. Everything becomes worse. People live with insufficient food, medicine, education opportunities and housing. Please tell me how it’s possible that we have millions living on the streets and we have over 2 million of our own people behind bars. Do we really have that many helpless people and bad guys? If so, how did they become that way?

Ronald Reagan turbocharged and others continued the “Government is the problem” idiocy, attacking non-existent welfare queens and phantom “young bucks’ feeding at the public trough. He used those lies to cut back social services and made White America proud to resent public services for non-Whites, so forget that “Saint Ronny” nonsense.

The government stood by and cheered the “right sizing” and clever management of our corporations, as 60 million manufacturing jobs were exported. That left whole towns and cities boarded up, their citizens without jobs and without hope.

Bottom line: Millions of our compatriots have lost trust and gained resentments and anger because our government has been pulling the rug from under them for over 40 years. They may be beaten up, but they know who’s been doing the beating, Now, in a pandemic, we expect them to blindly do what the government tells them to do. That just isn’t realistic.

So, they march carrying angry, spiteful signs and vent their rage at town hall and school board meetings. They proclaim their freedom from a tyrannical government and carry firearms where they’re unneeded and where they may well provoke violence (see: Kyle Rittenhouse and Travis McMichael).

Read the report for the full story. Just get this: Vaccine hesitancy isn’t all that has been birthed by consistent governmental blow off of citizens. Here’s my take on that.

A huge percentage of Americans is working to tear down our democracy, this oddly in the name of patriotism and – get this – democracy. They are not rioting and sending death threats in order to be villains; they believe that they are the true patriots. And why not?

In the wake of decades of governmental disrespect of them and as they’ve been fed a constant stream of victimhood lies, conspiracy lies, red, white and blue lies, calls to violence lies and more, what do you suppose they believe? Those Big Lies – yes, there are many of them – told over and over become the true reality for people who are already angry and they want to hit back in righteous fury. And all they need to validate their victimhood is a charismatic leader who constantly tells them how they’ve been wronged. O’ the beauty of confirmation bias!

When people are told over and over that our sacred election was stolen by child sex trafficking villains, they are shocked at first. When they are told that every day, they at last need no proof, no evidence, as the hyperbolic accusation has become their believed reality. They’re furious and the repetition is enough for them to convict. So, they lash out in what promises to be the opposite of what they actually want, government of, by and for the people, but they don’t see that. They may be marionettes of the liars, but they feel powerful in their manipulated anger and at last in control of their lives. Such is the power of propaganda when fed to people who feel abused.

So, they march carrying angry, spiteful signs and vent their rage at town hall and school board meetings. They proclaim their freedom from a tyrannical government and carry firearms where they’re unneeded and where they may provoke violence. (See: Kyle Rittenhouse and Travis McMichael)

To be clear, here’s the Why: These things happen because faith has been broken, respect has disappeared and trust has been stomped upon. Plus the lies. And the appeals to victimhood. And yet more lies.

We’ve seen this story before and we know the dreadful ending. Here’s how it happens. You need to read the entire essay; then you’ll clearly see a sword of Damocles hanging by a single hair of a horse’s tail above our constitution and you’ll know what to do.



‘Needle Nazis,’ ‘medical brown shirts,’ Mengele and Stars of David: How Nazi-coronavirus comparisons have proliferated on the right, Aaron Blake, New York Times

Lock Down the Unvaccinated So America Can Get Back To Normal!, Thom Hartmann

Why We Need to Address Scam Culture, by Tressie McMilllan Cottom, New York Times

Important Webinars

Focus for Democracy’s Landscape Analysis and Early Recommendations for 2022, Focus For Democracy. Register here for this program that runs TODAY at 4:00PM PST, 7:00PM EST.

The Future of Democracy, The Washington Post, speakers Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia; former Director for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Christopher Krebs; USAID Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming, Isobel Coleman. December 16, 6:30AM PST, 9:30AM EST. Register here.


*  “About 40 percent of Republican adults have not received a vaccine shot, according to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll. As a result, the Covid death rate is far higher in heavily Republican counties than in Democratic ones.”

“Fewer than 10 percent of Democratic voters have not received a vaccine shot. Political liberals also tend to be comfortable wearing masks to reduce the spread of the Covid virus.”

David Leonhardt, New York Times, December 10, 2021


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2 Responses to Why
  1. Jim Altschuler Reply

    You’ve painted such a bleak picture. I wish it wasn’t true ….. but it is!

    If you tell a lie often enough and with enough conviction it (seems to) becomes truth. I don’t remember who said that, but it’s true.