"It’s worth recalling that in the early days of the pandemic, Republican COVID denialism began as a largely reflexive partisan instinct. President Trump was too upset by the emergence of a pandemic, at a moment when he believed he had seized a decisive campaign advantage, to admit that he was facing a serious crisis that required action. And so he began insisting the virus would disappear quickly...The Republicans’ original premise for these beliefs was that Democrats were hyping up the pandemic as a pretext to shut down the economy and thereby to harm his chances of reelection... That entire conspiracy theory has collapsed. And yet the beliefs it spawned — that masks and vaccines were unnecessary — have remained in place...Until COVID came along, not even doctrinaire libertarians opposed government vaccine mandates. For decades, institutions like the military and schools have routinely required a long list of vaccines. HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn cites the works of libertarian writers such as Jessica Flanigan (“A Defense of Compulsory Vaccination,” 2013), Jason Brennan (“A Libertarian Case for Mandatory Vaccination,” 2018), and Ilya Somin, all of whom supported vaccine mandates before COVID existed.But even if you were such a libertarian extremist that you opposed vaccine requirements, there’s no conceivable justification for banning private business from requiring vaccinations. When Cruz insists, “No one should force anyone to take the vaccine — including the federal government or an employer,” he is trampling on property rights and freedom of association, principles a small-government conservative like Cruz usually defends fanatically...There is no clever plan here — just politicians so desperate to cater to the pathologies of their base that they chase one another to adopt the most politically toxic and socially hazardous position available. Donald Trump’s heirs have tested the political marketplace and arrived at a morbid conclusion: His supporters would rather die than admit they were wrong."
More at New York Magazine.
Addendum: Salient comments from Paul Krugman ("The Quiet Rage of the Responsible"):
To say what should be obvious, getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public spaces aren’t “personal choices.” When you reject your shots or refuse to mask up, you’re increasing my risk of catching a potentially deadly or disabling disease, and also helping to perpetuate the social and economic costs of the pandemic. In a very real sense, the irresponsible minority is depriving the rest of us of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.Furthermore, to say something that should also be obvious, those claiming that their opposition to public health measures is about protecting “freedom” aren’t being honest.Most notably, ever since masks became a front in the culture war it has been clear that many opponents of mask mandates aren’t merely demanding the right to go unmasked themselves — they want to stop others from acting responsibly. Tucker Carlson has called on his viewers to confront people they encounter who are wearing masks, and there have been scattered reports of violent attacks on mask-wearers.Also, it’s striking how quickly supposed conservative principles have been abandoned wherever honoring those principles would help rather than hurt attempts to contain the pandemic.For decades, conservatives have insisted that business owners should have the right to do as they please — to hire and fire at will, to deny service to whomever they choose. Yet here we have Abbott threatening to pull the liquor licenses of restaurants that ask for proof of vaccination, even as Texas runs out of I.C.U. beds.Conservatives have also championed local control of education — except, it turns out, when school districts want to protect children with mask rules, in which case MAGA governors want to seize control and cut off their funding...So it’s time to stop being diffident and call out destructive behavior for what it is. Doing so may make some people feel that they’re being looked down on. But you know what? Your feelings don’t give you the right to ruin other people’s lives.