Where are the Republican COVID-19 heroes willing to risk their careers to save lives?

There has never ever been a better time for the so-called “pro-life” movement of America to act urgently to, well, save some lives.

America’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines will soon surpass demand. Meanwhile Israel, with the most aggressive (yet imperfect) vaccine rollout in the world, has recorded multiple days with zero pandemic-related deaths for the first time in 10 months — suggesting that a comprehensive national vaccination program could contain the killer virus that has already killed at least 572,000 Americans.

Still, some Americans seem to be eager to stand in the way of any hope of what scientists call “herd immunity.” Who are those Americans? Mostly Republican men and white evangelicals — aka the people who’ve spent the last 40 years or so telling us they are much more concerned about “life” than everyone else. 

Secret COVID vaccine for Trump

Nearly all Americans have a chance step up to take a shot that might not only save us but also our families, our neighbors and our country from prolonging the deadliest pandemic in a century. Yet at this Dunkirk moment, elected Republicans have largely done the opposite of joining our armada of “little ships.”

Sens. Ron Johnson and Rand Paul have spread garbage about the effort to vaccinate as many Americans as possible. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis acts far more concerned about efforts to make sure people are vaccinated than he does about the effects of COVID-19, which has already killed at least 34,000 Floridians — more than the 32,463-vote margin that put him in office in 2018.

As an ex-president, Donald Trump urged his followers at the Conservative Political Action Conference to get their shots and has made a few supportive comments since then. But when he was still president, in January, he and Melania Trump were vaccinated secretly at the White House. Their off-camera shots, revealed last month, denied the country the single most obvious image that might be used to convince reluctant Trump supporters to join the war on COVID-19. 

Former Vice President Mike Pence, the closest thing Republicans have to an ex-president who left office peacefully, was among the first Americans to get his shot in December of last year. Since then, he’s been busy avoiding nooses brandished by fans of his two-time running mate and getting a pacemaker. Still, he’s found time to try to scaremonger about unaccompanied minors at the border.

COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 12, 2021, in Connecticut. (Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

And Pence isn’t alone. The entire Republican Party seems to want the nation to fixate on the tragic number of 18,500 kids arriving alone at the border in March. But they can’t  find the same energy to finish off a pandemic that’s still infecting more than 50,000 Americans each day, still orphaning thousands of Americans each week.

And who’s paying the cost of the GOP’s insistence on Joe Biden and his administration almost solely responsible for the biggest public health mobilization in American history? In Michigan, the state with the worst spike of cases in the nation, we’re learning that the answer increasingly is “the kids.” 

Just say yes: Are we about to hit a vaccine wall? If you have doubts about getting the shot, reconsider.

I’ve spent a lot of my adult life trying to shame pro-lifers into caring about actual children as much as they do about fertilized eggs. While this effort may get you some retweets, it doesn’t change the right’s behavior in the least. It’s like trying to translate Republicans’ professed affection for Israel into an appreciation of Israel’s national universal health care.

I’m sure President Biden, who has led an awesome nationalized rollout of vaccinations that has exceeded most reasonable expectations, will humbly call for all Americans to join the fight when he addresses Congress on Wednesday. Unfortunately, this clarion call from a man nearly 70% of Republicans think stole the election with his tricky strategy of getting 7 million more votes than Donald Trump may only increase Republican hesitancy to get injected.

Please care about your voters’ lives

The right’s inherent suspicion of government power, which suddenly reappears when Republicans aren’t in power, is being compounded by the way COVID-19 was turned into a culture war with the bombastic leadership of the last president. Republican leaders recognize there are few rewards that come with breaking with their party’s base. And who wants to help a Democratic president in the task that will largely define the success of his presidency? So we’re stuck.

Even talking about vaccine hesitancy helps normalize it, especially when it’s me, a lib, doing it. Would Republicans risk their own voters’ lives just to “own” me? Ask the millions of Americans who have been denied Medicaid insurance because their Republican governors refuse to expand it under the Affordable Care Act — even though the federal government is footing almost the entire bill.

We have never been more desperate for Republican heroes who want to save their own constituents’ lives, and they’ve never been harder to find. So I’m begging GOP leaders to care as much about their fellow Republicans’ health and survival as much as this lib does.

Former CDC chief: Think diners, dentists and dollar stores. Make COVID vaccines easy to get.

We may disagree about when life begins, but we can all agree that every American who is 16 and over and now eligible for free vaccines has met that standard. Go out and brag about taking Mr. Trump’s shots that were basically invented by Mr. Trump himself (even though the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were already in clinical trials before Operation Warp Speed was even announced.)

Do whatever you have to do to make vaccination an issue of patriotism and not partisanship.

Since the sanctity of “life” is obviously not encouragement enough, think of the next election, the one you are busy trying to rig in state legislatures across the country. If you don’t act to defeat this plague when it’s possible, your next president could spend his entire term dealing with this pandemic. And if it is who I know you hope it is, we already know how much he hates doing that.

Jason Sattler, a writer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors and host of “The GOTMFV Show” podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @LOLGOP

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