Happy July 4th, America. Stop letting polarization kill you.
As the nation celebrates its 245th birthday, it is increasingly clear and depressing that America is becoming two very different countries: a blue and a red, with little shared identity and health and economic outcomes. very different.
Polarization not only transforms American society, it literally kills people.
Divides in American society have become so extreme that where you live and how you vote increasingly has life and death consequences. And no recent issue illustrates this better than the growing divide between the red state and the blue state over Covod-19 vaccinations. The vaccine fight, rather than an outgrowth of the presidency that divides Trump, is just another example of how polarization isn’t just transforming American society – it is literally killing people.
In June, the White House announced that the United States would not meet President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70% of American adults receive at least one injection of the Covid-19 vaccine by July 4.
So far, only 18 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have exceeded the 70 percent threshold for vaccinations. They all have one thing in common: Each of them backed Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
In the states former President Donald Trump won, that’s a whole different story. Across the South, which voted overwhelmingly for Trump, vaccination rates hover around 50% with two states (Mississippi and Louisiana) below that mark and three others (Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas) barely above. Rates are equally low in the far west, with Idaho and Wyoming lagging behind the rest of the country.
Data collated by Seth Masket of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver shows that the correlation between how states voted in the last election and the percentage of their citizens who are vaccinated is almost accurate.
According to Masket, âVaccinations are a better predictor of state voting patterns in 2020 than education, racial makeup, or almost any other demographic factor. “
With the highly contagious and deadly Delta variant spreading across the country, America in a red state could consider another wave of Covid-19 cases this summer and fall.
This disconnect is another example of America’s increasingly fractured politics.
This disconnect is another example of America’s increasingly fractured politics. Voters don’t just choose candidates based on whether they have a “D” or “R” next to their name, they make health decisions using the same criteria.
Decades ago, most US states experienced similar improvements in life expectancy; all the boats tended to rise as one. Today, residents of the northeastern and western states (who generally vote Democrats) are living longer and healthier lives, while in the South and the Appalachians, life expectancy has stagnated.
In 2017, the gap between Hawaii, the state with the highest life expectancy, and Mississippi (which has the lowest) was seven years. White males in large metropolitan areas had some of the largest gains in life expectancy, while white males in non-metropolitan areas had much smaller gains.
These disparate results correlate directly with the attention and resources that red and blue states devote to the health of their citizens. Americans in the Blue State have much greater access to health care. Their political leaders are investing more in education, child care and other social protection programs. They strictly regulate handguns, which means fewer of their residents die from gun violence. Medicaid benefits are generous and are not tied to punitive regulations such as job requirements.
Today, more than a decade after Obamacare came into effect, there are still 12 states that have refused to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, which was a key aspect of the law. health care. This is happening even though the federal government takes 90 percent of the bill for the expansion and the recently passed US bailout has increased the total by 5 percent.
Unsurprisingly, all 12 states have Republican-controlled state legislatures, and the rationale for not accepting federal largesse is based on political polarization: they want nothing to do with a federal agenda associated with Barack Obama. . This means that nearly 4 million people are denied access to health insurance for no good reason.
In the GOP voting South and the Appalachians, life expectancy has stagnated.
In the fall of 2020, voters in Missouri attempted to take matters into their own hands by passing a voting initiative demanding that the state expand Medicaid. But in April, the Republican-dominated state legislature was reluctant to allocate money to the plan, effectively killing it. “Owning the libraries” by contributing to the untimely death of the citizens of your state is unimaginably cruel. But in Missouri and 11 other states, it’s a reality – and a reality Republican voters continue to vote for at the ballot box, election after election.
Now Missouri is currently experiencing an increase in Covid-19 cases, with the second highest number of cases per 100,000 people in the country. Unsurprisingly, of the three counties in the state that voted for Biden in 2020, two of them have the highest vaccination rates, while those where Trump won lag behind.
The divisions so obvious in Missouri are more than just an outgrowth of Trump’s presidency – they are a reflection of the growing chasm between Red and Blue America.
Republicans and Democrats today are much more likely to view these members of the other party not as competitors, but as enemies, with extremely unfavorable views of each other. In Washington partisanship and dysfunction crippled Congress and the federal government.
On the anniversary of our independence, America is less of a united country and more of a divided house.