Hey y’all—it’s Tim.
JVL is on a much-deserved Summer break from this newsletter (though his feverish editing of Afghanistan pieces might make the rest of the Last clan question his “holiday” status).
I’m at the helm today and Friday and Ben Parker, Sonny Bunch, and Hannah Yoest will have a triad of Afghanistan triads in the coming days.
Today’s guest newsletter is open to everyone so I have to make a quick pitch for signing up for the full-freight. If you aren’t already a Bulwark+ member, you are really missing out on the daily Triad.
I don’t say this lightly, JVL is doing something I can’t fathom—putting out a product every single day that is a well-crafted, interesting, and enlightening take on the news and other stochastic interests. Sign-up today—I promise you won’t regret it.
Onto the newsletter...
1. The Vaxxed are Pissed
At this point, just having to talk about the state of the unvaccinated gets me pissed. And clearly, I’m not alone.
Whether it is hearing from friends who work in hospitals and are getting worn down by patients and family members who aren’t heeding their professional advice on the vaccine; worrying about a kid entering school this fall and having to mask; or looking at the death chart and finding hundreds of totally unnecessary deaths every day.
It’s all rage-inducing.
Consider this—despite having a damn miracle drug that all but eliminates deadly risk from the virus—there are still more deaths every single day in this country than assholes with massive platforms claimed there would be for the entire pandemic! And yet these same human sphincters continue spreading their lies, utterly remorseless.
Just typing this shit has my blood boiling.
So when I read JVL in this space last week calling for the end of the vaccine wars, I had a visceral negative reaction. As the saying goes, even a clock that is always right, is wrong twice a day (or something like that).
I utterly reject his call to let the unvaxxed lay down their unjabbed arms in peace.
We cannot continue to sit idly by as thousands die a week for no damn reason. We cannot continue to let our lives be hijacked by anti-vax charlatans and their enablers.
The politicians who facilitate such carnage must pay the price politically.
It’s past time for Democrats and the smattering of actively pro-vax GOP governors to up the ante and wage a pro-vaccine culture war of their own.
It starts with additional vaccine mandates, ASAP.
2. The Numbers Are With Us
Despite the seeming ubiquity on social media of anti-vaxxers, anti-vax apologists, mandate mockers, and mUh fReEdOm fighters, in the grand scheme of things politically these folks are all playing a losing hand. And they know it.
People are speaking with their arms. 70% of Americans have already gotten at least one jab. That’s not enough as far as public health is concerned, but as a political matter, it is a sufficient base of support from which to institute new vaccine mandates and to punish politicians who are enabling the anti-vaxxers.
A key swing state’s numbers make this even more stark: Wisconsin’s gold standard Marquette poll showed the breakdown by party. 87% of Democrats are vaxxed, 71% of independents, and 45% of Republicans. (Bonus stat: the same poll showed Donald Trump’s favorability at 37% while 55% view him unfavorably)
A recent Morning Consult poll showed 56% support vaccine mandates by employers with only 32% opposed. That’s +24 for the good guys. Bonus: Even among republicans it’s 38% for vs. 49% against. That’s what folks in the politics business call a wedge.
Kaiser asked whether “the federal government should recommend that employers” require their workers to get vaccinated, four in five vaccinated Democrats and “nearly half” of vaccinated Republicans agreed that it should.
According to the COVID States Project—64 percent of Americans approved of the government requiring everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine. All but three states (North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) had a majority in favor of mandatory vaccines.
Gallup found that 60 percent support vaccine mandates for high school students. 64% support mandatory masking for unvaccinated students.
A Quinnipiac poll showed more modest support for mandates with 60% backing requirements for health care workers, 53% for other government employees, and a 48/49 split for students.
So in short there is an overwhelming majority for vaccination incentives and a clear majority for either the government or businesses mandating vaccination. The gaps are so wide that there is plenty of room for bleeding of GOP support following the inevitable backlash resulting from vaccine-mandated employees at Fox News riling up their audience with kayfabe.
The data leaves no doubt that politicians like DeSantis who are actively suing to stop private sector mandates are on the wrong side of the electorate and dividing their own voters.
Unlike on many of the other culture war issues where the right wants to press their advantage—here the numbers are not in their favor. As Democratic pollster Nick Gourevitch told The Atlantic, “There’s something different about this than any of their culture-war or [racial]-identity fights, because a huge percentage of their own party at the very least doesn’t agree [on], or is not energized by, the position of protecting the unvaccinated.”
This is a culture war fight worth having for the pro-vax majority. It is a political winner and it will save lives. Democrats should eschew any remaining reluctance to implement or encourage new vaccine regulations and should be merciless in attacking Republicans that want to stand in their way. Because if swing state/district Republicans don’t go along they are going to find themselves at risk of reaching that 37% Trump-doza line themselves.
Finally, if there is any remaining doubt about whether the center-right in America would go along with just policies—look to the sage wisdom of Fox News guest host and Federalist founder Ben Domenech. In 2015 he wrote, “We've had mandatory vaccine policies in the U.S. since before the Emancipation Proclamation. Why are they controversial now?”
As I was saying. Broken clocks.
3. The Failed Afghan Drug War
As anyone who was suffering through my tweets the past 36 hours knows, I am absolutely horrified and despondent about what is happening in Afghanistan. The inability to—at a minimum—exfil and resettle those who have helped us over the last two decades is to our great national shame. Stories like this of desperate allies unable to navigate a paperwork morass are utterly gutting. The Biden Admin is overseeing a massive FUBAR and it doesn’t do anyone any good to pretend it’s better than it is.
JVL generally saves this third spot for stories you might have otherwise missed. In that spirit, in the course of my Afghan doom scrolling I came across this Twitter thread by Professor Jeffrey Clemens and related BBC article on a different Afghanistan failure from the one blaring across our TV screens—the Opium Drug War—which seem to have gone about as well over there as it did at our border.
Read the whole thing. I’ll be back on Friday. Peace.