Dear Mr. Trump:
You once told us: “Only I can fix it.”
And when it comes to COVID vaccinations for some of your most ardent supporters, you just may be right.
As you have heard, a sizeable number of Republicans (41%, according to a recent PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll) have said they won’t get their shots.
An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found a similar result: Forty-two percent of Republican respondents said they probably or definitely would not get the shot.
In a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, an even larger share of the Americans who voted for you, 50%, said they “will never” get inoculated .
They cite a number of reasons: lack in trust in the vaccines, suspicion that the vaccines were too rushed and are thus unsafe, and various and sundry conspiracy theories that are better left unsaid.
Here’s where you come in. A few well-spoken words from you could work miracles.
We know you already have endorsed the vaccine, kinda sorta, more than once. Most recently you did so Tuesday in an interview with Fox News.
“It’s a great vaccine, it’s a safe vaccine and it’s something that works,” you said.
Yet you also said this: “But you know again, we have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also.”
What does that mean? No one’s freedoms are at risk here. No one is being forced to take the vaccine. They do so only by choice.
We’re just asking you to encourage them to make that choice to benefit themselves, their loved ones and others. And to remind them that the sooner most Americans get their shots, the sooner the economy will recover and the sooner life as we once knew it will return.
When you punctuate your comments with seeds of doubt, it’s not helpful, especially in a time so rife with distrust and disinformation. In other words, a fuzzy endorsement may in some ways be worse than no endorsement at all.
The asterisk you attached to your remarks on Fox recalls the similarly confusing words you spoke about mask-wearing, which were unclear and contradictory. That’s why it’s important for you to spread your message about the value of vaccinations, loudly, clearly and factually, every chance you get, and that you encourage other Republican leaders to follow suit. You, of all people, know the effectiveness of a theme, repeated over and over.
Yes, there are others whose voices also hold special weight and credibility, such as Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, who is both a scientist and an evangelical Christian. And former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who, like you, became seriously ill with the virus.
But, as you well know (and, in fact, have reminded us on many occasions) your voice holds special power and influence.
Are we trying to flatter you?
You bet. But it’s true. The hold you have on some Americans is uncanny. Some of them probably still would vote for you even if you, well, you know, did what you said you could do on Fifth Avenue.
Having been vaccinated yourself, along with the former first lady, in January, you can vouch for the safety of the vaccine. You also can explain the vaccines were successfully fast-tracked largely because of you.
What better way to take a victory lap on the results of your Operation Warp Speed, which jolted the development of vaccines with record times for tests and implementation. “They said it couldn’t be done,” you could remind the naysayers. Well, it got done.
One polling consultant says it’s too late for a push even from you to be an effective voice on this issue. Some Republicans even say that doctors’ opinions hold more weight than yours (which, to be honest, comes as a relief to us).
Also, the share of Americans who are fearful of vaccinations is trending downward.
But the more the better, and the sooner the better.
While you’re at it, please speak out often and unequivocally about the hateful violence toward Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent, who are wrongly being blamed for the COVID outbreak.
You may not have intended it, but your reckless rhetoric about “the China virus” and “the Kung flu” likely contributed to the ongoing wave of harassment and assaults, some of which have resulted in deaths.
By one count, there have been 3,800 such incidents in the year since the pandemic reached the U.S.
In both the cases of the shots and the violence, lives are at stake.
So, please, do your bit for God and country.
Step up and speak out.
Add an important new chapter to your legacy by helping to Make America Well Again.