Republicans have been rather comically freaking out over the big bad gov’mint forcing them to wear masks, inventing various health reasons from their Facebook echo chamber to justify this stance (and of course Trumpbook Facebook is doing nothing to stop it, because Zukerberg is a Trump supporter hence why I don’t have a Facebook page). However, in the process they serve to demonstrate the dangerous and illogical mind set of many conservatives. As well as explaining why their opposition to things, such as gun control or climate action, is not based on any form of rational argument, but instead deep seated tribalism and selfishness.
First of all, no there is nothing unusual about being asked to wear a mask in the middle of a pandemic, such measures have been brought in during past pandemics, such as the 1918 Spainsh flu. And yes there wear some hold outs (called mask slackers back in the 1918 pandemic) but perhaps not on the scale today (they didn’t have access to Facebook back then).
Hospitals also use masks to control the spread of infections. And its quite common in many Asian countries for people to wear a mask if ill. So if any of this anti-mask BS was even remotely true, we’d know it for sure as there would be known statistics from a century of data gathering to prove as much (I particularly find it funny some of them claiming they have breathing problems while yelling at people).
Unfortunately, masks aren’t hugely effective at stopping you getting infected, but they are very effective at stopping wearers spreading the virus. Which of course means that if everyone wears them (when social distancing isn’t possible), then you can greatly reduce the rates of infection. Studies have shown a 80% rate of mask wearing would reduce infection rates by 90%. So in essence it means that we all trade the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask (and yes I know, on a hot day its not nice to have one on), in return for reducing all of our changes of getting the virus by a factor of 10. Which seems a fair trade…..unless you are a conservative.
“…..insecure and vain…They often lack confidence….Above all, they are apt to be self-centered and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors and communities…”
“….are very concerned with how other people see them rather than with what’s practical, and they tend to want to control or have control over the people around them….”
Which kind of sums up the problem. While to most of us, making a small sacrifice for the greater good makes sense. But its not the same if you are an vain, insecure, selfish person who doesn’t give a toss about anybody but yourself. Even if you are ultimately endangering yourself and everybody else in the process.
And republicans are also very conscious of how they are viewed by their peers. If you ever go on their discussion forums you’ll notice they way they pressure one another to conform is often driven by how you will be perceived and judged (if you wear a mask you’ll look like a liberal, if you don’t carry a gun you’ll look like a pussy). This not only explains the opposition to masks, but also their opposition to other things.
In my previous article for example I noted how the proliferation of SUV’s was driven by a perception of them being safer, when in fact they lack crumple zones are and are more prone to single vehicle rollover accidents. The end result being a much higher rate of fatal accidents. And we see much the same with guns. You might feel safer with a gun in the house, but statistics say the opposite is true.
Climate change also represents another good example. We all make a few little sacrifices (try to use less energy, recycle more, transition to less polluting energy sources), for the greater good, noting that the longer you stretch out the transition, the lower the impact (hence delaying action is not advised). But of course to a conservative, no why should I use low-energy bulbs (which save money) when I can instead waste energy (and my money) just so I can look good in front of my fellow inbreed control freaks conservatives.
And their desire to be seen to be in control makes it difficult for them to change their minds. As that could be perceived as a sign of weakness by their peer group. This is made worse by the conservative propensity for self delusion. I recall a psychiatrist once pointing out to me that the brain is wired up to make decisions quickly and justify the decision afterwards. This makes sense from an evolutionary stand point. Something moves in the bushes and jumps out, you want to react quickly. Of course if it turns out to just be a rabbit (rather than a bobcat), well, your brain is supposed to take those facts on board and remember not to be so jumpy next time around.
However republican brains will twist the facts to justify the original decision. No they’ll argue rabbits are deadly animals we should fear and run away from. And nothing will persuade them otherwise. And I assume they only survived evolution because no liberal pointed out to them that while rabbits are safe, tigers are dangerous and you should stay away from them (which would have led them to go and hug a tiger just to prove them dems are wrong).
This explains how they will engage in such elaborate delusionary arguments, twisting facts, logic, time and space to justify anything. Because in their mind, they minute they admit they are wrong about something, they are less of a rugged individual and their fragile ego just cannot take that sort of a hit.
And it also explains how republican leaders can make massive 180 degree pivots without their supporters noticing or calling them out over it. When a democrat is office, the deficit is the worse crime in history. Soon as Trump took over, deficits? Who cares about those! lets give the rich a tax cut. Within a month of a democrat taking over, they’ll likely develop selective amnesia regarding Trump (I bet you they will blame every bad that’s happened on Trump’s watch on Biden if he wins).
They demanded that Obama and Hilary be locked up for Benghazi and 9-11 (yes really! they think its Obama’s fault!), but they will completely ignore the 120,000 dead (and counting) thanks to Trump’s incompetence. Because their supporters subconsciously know that if they ever admit to their leaders being lying, incompetent, con-men (who are probably constantly laughing their asses off at these morons as they count their ill-gotten gains), that’s going to make them look likely total mugs for being fooled by them for so long. That’s why Trump is only 8-10 points behind in the polls (meaning a 4-5% swing could win him the election). Its a classic feature of any con, get the mark to emotionally commit to the con.
Certainly Trump and other leading republicans refusal to wear masks doesn’t help. It represents very poor leadership and adds fuel to the fire and has ensured the pandemic will last longer, kill more people and do more damage to the economy . But they are repeating what is coming out of the conservative echo chamber of delusion rather than driving it.
And here in the UK, its possible we could see things follow a similar pattern due to the government relaxing lockdown measures too early and not sharing the data in full with the public or local councils. A recent report suggested that between austerity, the rolling back of NHS services and Covid the Tories have killed up to 250,000 people through sheer incompetence and greed. But watch and wait and you’ll see plenty of those screwed over by the Tories lining up to vote for them again next election.
Unfortunately, Trump and the Republicans are about to get a nasty lesson in evolution. Cases are soaring in south GOP voting states. A leading member of the Trump campaign who argued against mask is now in hospital. Given that it will take about 2-4 months for things to stabilise, this will make campaigning difficult. And getting hundreds of thousands of your own supporters killed on the eve of an election, is hardly a sensible election strategy. Even if a further set of lockdowns is avoided, as many will chose to self isolate to avoid infection, meaning the economic impact of the virus will be extended. Hence the economic recovery Trump is hoping for might not occur by the election day.
Republicans may find that the ultimately cure to their delusionary mentality is a democratic president, with democratic control of both houses. And maybe the solution is for democrats to start acting like republicans. I’d recommend using every dirty mean underhand trick to win the election (e.g. insist they wear masks at polling stations). And once in office, ignore the constitution just as much as Trump did. And use that power to after Trump and his cronies as well as “Trump proofing” the political system (so voting reform, judicial reform and ultimately splinting the powers of president into a head of state and head of government). And take the opportunity to roll back everything the GOP have worked for over the last few decades. There’s no point trying to appeal to conservative voters better nature – they don’t have one.