Unvaccinated Americans are literally killing people in this country. The people fighting for this country are the vaccinated—the roughly three-quarters of Americans who have gotten at least one shot. As for those who have refused shots, their “refusal has cost all of us,” as President Joe Biden noted in a speech last week.

In the wake of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decisive defeat this week of the GOP’s recall effort, Democrats finally appear ready to go to the mat for the real patriots—those protecting themselves, their families, their neighbors, and their friends from the pandemic.

“The contrast is going to be clear as we move into 2022,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison told reporters Wednesday after Newsom turned the recall on its head. “The contrast between folks who are card-carrying members of Trumpism and folks who are Americans through and through and are fighting for this country.”

Democrats were already heading in the direction of making the midterms a choice between governance that saves lives and governance that dooms constituents. But Newsom’s victory seems to have crystalized the strategy. Newsom ran on an unapologetically aggressive pro-vaccine, pro-mask, pro-mitigation campaign, repeatedly warning that the election was “a matter of life and death” and his GOP challenger Larry Elder wouldwalk us off that same COVID cliff as Texas and Florida, Tennessee and Alabama and Georgia.”

As the first governor to order a statewide lockdown, to issue vaccine mandates for teachers, and to require proof of vaccination for large indoor events, Newsom wrapped himself in the very policies that helped fuel the Republican recall effort, and it paid off. 

As of Friday night, Newsom had rallied nearly two-thirds of voters (64%) to his side with more than 80% of the vote counted.

Newsom’s aggressive mitigation efforts and the frightening prospect of Elder’s promise to repeal them before having his “first cup of tea” in the governor’s mansion not only fired up the Democratic base, it won over vaccinated independents. 

Newsom’s pollster David Binder tweeted that their polling found 67% of vaccinated independents voted “no” on the recall. Newsom lost 90% of unvaccinated independents but, as Binder noted, “the vast majority of independents who voted in the California recall were vaccinated.”

It makes sense that vaccinated independents (and Democrats!) would feel motivated to get to the polls under life-and-death circumstances and mostly cast their ballot in favor of living. And while California is an overwhelmingly Democratic state, the notion that Newsom won roughly two-thirds of vaccinated independents bodes well for Democrats as far more independents are vaccinated. According to Civiqs tracking, about two-thirds of independents nationwide report being vaccinated, while around a quarter say they don’t plan on getting the jab. 

What the GOP’s historic recall defeat proved is that just because the pro-pandemic crowd is the loudest and most menacing, they’re not a majority, and they don’t dictate the outcome of an election.

Newsom’s advice to Democrats going forward is to “lean in” to policies to control the pandemic despite the vocal blowback, because the silent majority is with Democrats’ life-saving efforts and GOP pro-plague policies scare the bejesus out of them. 

“Look, I was recalled in no small part due to my approach to this pandemic,” Newsom said in an interview with CBS News. “So what I’m saying here is, be affirmative. Don’t be timid. Lean in. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about the formal authority of setting the tone and tenor on vaccines and masks, but it’s the moral authority that we have. That we’re on the right side of history and we’re doing the right thing to save people’s lives.”

So while Florida’s GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is holding anti-vaccine rallies and amplifying vaccine conspiracy theories, Democrats must use every lever possible” to “protect more people, to save more lives,” as White House press secretary Jen Psaki promised the White House would continue doing this week. 

“If 2020 was about Trump and never-Trump, 2022 may be about vaccinated and never vaccinated,” Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson told The Washington Post. “Both in polling and in focus groups, I think there has been a bunch of data points that show the anger at the choice made by the unvaccinated.”

Far from being part of the solution to the pandemic, Republicans continue to double down on promoting policies that are both misinformed and lethal. If Democrats diligently pound that point home, the midterms will be a referendum on the fringe GOP politics responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Liked it? Take a second to support Community on Patreon!

This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here