In 2018, I worked on a political campaign for a woman running for state representative. I worked roughly 60 hours a week and eventually quit because I saw the writing on the walls that we wouldn’t win. She refused to fundraise over the phone, I knocked on more doors than she did weekly, and she was obsessed with yard signs and parades (two aspects of campaigns I think are worthless). She refused to be managed and lost by a wide margin in 2018, which was an excellent year for Democrats.
In politics, the two most important things you can do are raise money and knock on doors. The money helps you advertise your campaign to get out the vote and persuade people who disagree with you to vote for you. Knocking doors is the easiest way to talk to voters, ask for their vote, and convince people to vote for you. When my candidate lost sight of this, I knew she wasn’t going to win. The people who taught me about “dollars and doors” argued that we needed to be out talking to Republicans to get them to vote for her.
I’ve never been a big fan of the concept of persuasion. In a political campaign, I would prefer to try to get people who might lean my way to vote than try to get a Republican to vote for a Democrat. When one rejoices in the misery of liberals, there isn’t much of anything that will persuade that person to vote your way. Trying to target a smaller and smaller portion of swing voters is difficult in our hyper-polarized country, especially when the two sides in politics don’t share the same values.
If persuasion is to work, you need to use the other side’s value system. For example, if a Republican wants to persuade a Democrat to support more military spending, they should argue how it helps people of color get out of poverty. On the other side, suppose a Democrat wants a Republican to support clean energy. In that case, they need to argue how renewable energy is a matter of energy independence, creates domestic jobs in rural areas, and even allows people to live off the grid if they so choose. Equity is a solid liberal value, and freedom is a solid conservative value.
Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, I once had hope that COVID-19 would bring us all together against a common enemy. My hope faded over time and the pandemic was eventually politicized. I came to an unfortunate realization that there is no limit to political polarization in this country. Aliens could attack and we’d be polarized on that too (in a way, COVID is an alien and it did attack).
The two main groups of people who refuse to get vaccinated are people of color and Cult of Trump followers. Unfortunately, the rhetoric around the vaccination campaigns is not aimed at them. The messaging is still aimed at liberals who already got the shot. For example, I received a vaccine as soon as possible and literally drove a great distance where eligibility opened up early. Saying the COVID-19 vaccines are simple, safe, and effective is nothing to people who believe in medical freedom (whatever that is). Personal responsibility used to be a conservative value, but apparently, that only applies to low-income people and people of color who want access to affordable health care and better living conditions.
If we want to get conservatives to want to get vaccinated, then vaccination campaigns should argue about how the Democrats are going to win more elections if Republicans keep dying off in huge numbers.
Vaccine mandates are weird for me to consider. On nearly every issue, I argue that more freedom is better. I’m in favor of easy access to abortion and gun rights (both albeit reluctantly), most drugs should be decriminalized, and I even think prostitution should be legalized and regulated. Having health insurance, a good education, and a simple social welfare system makes people freer as they are more protected from bankruptcy and some of the negative aspects of life that could impede a life worth living. Regarding criminal justice, if someone commits a crime, then prison should be the punishment, not the rest of one’s life afterward. Onerous occupational licensing rules and local zoning regulations make us all poorer and less free. If Charter schools can innovate and teach public schools how to improve education, then they should be allowed to do so.
I digress about my libertarian Democratic values. The long and short of it is that I struggle with the concept of a vaccine mandate. In my ideal world, everyone would voluntarily get a vaccine because it’s the right things to do.
Public health is a weird issue as we’d all be better off if activities that are bad for us were not a part of society, but they are a part, and we have to deal with it. And sometimes we do! I love that we banned smoking from restaurants, lead from gas, added iodine to salt, added fluoride to drinking water, and required that people not poop on the street. As much as I think people like personal freedom and government programs that improve economic freedom, people should get a COVID-19 vaccine for the sake of collective public health, and if mandates are the only way to get there, I guess I support it. Why should the vaccinated be the solely responsible people in America?
Think of it this way; how would you feel if I decided that I didn’t want to use a toilet anymore? What if I believed in the freedom to poop wherever I wanted? I don’t mind if you use a bathroom, but don’t mandate that I use one! I want to poop on the street. It’s about personal choice. God and your immune system will protect me and my followers of toilet freedom. The Illuminati created toilets to spy on us and analyze what we eat anyway. I’ve done a lot of research and I know what I’m talking about.
This argument is functionally what the anti-vaxxers say. They’re arguing for their right to be a public health hazard. By not getting a vaccine, those with the mental illness of hyper-individualism are choosing to expose immunocompromised members of society to disease and raise the likelihood that they too become immunocompromised and die.
The problem with ending the COVID-19 pandemic has always been the hyper-individualistic people. They complained about masks too as the point of masks was not to protect yourself. It was to protect everyone from you in case you were an asymptomatic carrier of the virus. Still, the hyper-individualistic couldn’t see that as they all have the maturity level of an adolescent. They didn’t see what was in it for them.
There are three types of people in this world. Children, adolescents, and adults. Children only know pleasure and pain. Adolescents still only know joy and pain but are savvy enough to maximize the good and minimize the bad. Those who become actualized adults eventually learn to do good for the sake of it and not treat everything in life as transactional. I didn’t get anything out of wearing a mask, but I did it anyway as I could have the virus and not know it.
The ironic part about the anti-vaccine movement being full of adolescents is that teenagers are getting vaccinated at a rapid rate and children don’t mind wearing masks at all. It’s the parents that don’t want their kids to do these protective activities.
My favorite quote from The Ancient One in Dr. Strange’s Marvel movie sums up my thoughts on the subject of vaccine skepticism perfectly,
“Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and significant lesson of all.
It’s not about you”.