Wajahat Ali on Why Ron DeSantis Wants Florida’s Supreme Court to Look at COVID

On the heels of a major study announcing that vaccines helped save millions of lives during the pandemic, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis instead chooses to double down on vaccine skepticism to prop himself up as the new MAGA leader.

In the least shocking news of the year, a major study from the Commonwealth Fund and Yale School of Public Health revealed on Tuesday that Covid-19 vaccines work. They, you know, save lives. Specifically, the vaccines have saved more than 3.2 million lives and kept more than 18.5 million people out of the hospital in the US, a country that still has an unvaccinated population of 20 percent and leads the world in COVID-19 deaths.

In addition, the study shows that without vaccinations, there would have been nearly 4 times more hospitalizations and deaths within the past 2 years. Since money is often the only factor that determines whether we invest in community health care, frugal capitalists and deficit hawks will be happy to learn that vaccines also saved the U.S. nearly $1.15 trillion in medical costs.

It’s the easiest all-around win for anyone who cares about protecting Americans and the economy during a devastating, once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. However, why let life-saving vaccines get in the way of one’s selfish political ambitions? It’s more politically expedient to weaponize science and demonize healthcare professionals, such as Dr. Fauci, to satiate your base’s endless rage and fuel the right-wing 24-7 hate news cycle.

As an appetizer to DeSantis, Elon Musk, the world’s richest troll, tweeted on Sunday: “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” an impressive double-whammy that simultaneously triggers right-wing rage against medical professionals and transgender communities. It’s deliberate. In addition to attacking the LGBTQ community, educators, poll workers, elected officials, and law enforcement, doctors and hospitals have now replaced Hunter Biden’s laptop as the easiest target and low-hanging piñata for right-wing spears fashioned from fear, conspiracy theories, and ignorance.

The GOP has accelerated its dangerous “groomer” conspiracy and targets hospitals and doctors for being part of the evil “deep state” that is allegedly lying to parents, mutilating children and performing sex-change operations.

Gov. DeSantis is making sure to do his part to keep the hate flowing. He made an alliance with the Grim Reaper yesterday and went all-in with vaccine hesitancy, which the World Health Organization declared a top 10 global health emergency in 2019 “because it poses a serious challenge to the control of elimination of infectious diseases.” You know, like COVID-19, which is still killing and hospitalizing thousands of Americans every month.

But DeSantis won’t let inconvenient facts deter him from fighting manufactured bogeymen. He has elections to win, people! Instead, he asked the Florida Supreme Court to allow him to investigate “any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to COVID-19 vaccines,” which includes investigating pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical associations for allegedly misrepresenting the vaccine’s efficacy.

In order to legitimize right-wing conspiracy theories that fuel the deranged reality of the GOP’s base, he also wants to create his own “public health integrity committee” that will counter the CDC and its findings.

This panel would undoubtedly feature Hall of Fame nutters and disinformation experts, such as Florida’s very own surgeon general Joseph Ladapo, who joined DeSantis during his press conference on Tuesday. Ladapo, a vaccine skeptic, was slammed in October by medical colleagues for telling young men to stop taking the COVID vaccines based on debunked and superficial medical data that revealed an “abnormally high risk” of heart-related deaths. Who needs peer-reviewed studies and research when you have a right-wing political agenda to sell to your paranoid base?

Ladapo has also rejected vaccines for young children, because the GOP is apparently only interested in saving the kids if they’re in the womb. Under DeSantis’s leadership, Florida was the only nation to not reorder vaccines for kids. Unsurprisingly, more than 80,000 people have died in Florida from COVID. That’s what happens when your MAGA governor with presidential ambitions chooses to spend his time attacking masks, vaccines, medical professionals, and schools instead of trying to save lives.

However, what’s most infuriating is the GOP’s cowardice and hypocrisy. They don’t even have the courage of their convictions and lies. They can’t even commit to the cosplay performance. DeSantis, an elitist coward who was educated at Harvard and Yale, now promotes vaccine hesitancy even though he refuses to answer whether he’s been vaccinated.

In fact, two years ago, he aggressively praised and promoted vaccines to protect Florida’s elderly population from COVID. The HuffPost’s S.V. Date recently reminded everyone that DeSantis signed a law in 2019 that requires doctors and nurses to log in children’s vaccinations so the state and schools are always up to date with the kids’ latest shots.

US President Donald Trump speaks with Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis in September 2020.


So, what changed?

The right-wing base got taken over by extremists, vaccine skeptics, and conspiracy theorists. The fringe from Earth-3 easily are the new overlords of the GOP and conservative movement. Recall last year that Donald Trump’s slavish base booed him when he recommended that they get vaccinated. This is the same base that applauds his racism, treason, lies and vulgarity, but what happened the one time he asked them to do something that would actually save their lives? They immediately turned on him. That’s the power of non-stop right-wing disinformation and fear-mongering around vaccines and science.

Unlike Trump, DeSantis isn’t self-destructive or egregiously careless. He wants the throne and he knows he has to take out the weakened King first. It’s not enough to promote white supremacist conspiracy theories, shout dog whistles, and promise tax cuts for the rich to emerge as a GOP leader anymore. DeSantis knows his road to the GOP nomination must be paved with the dead bodies of his own base who refuse to get vaccinated due to his active disinformation and lies.

For “pro life” Republicans, death is a small price to pay to own the libs and attain your political ambitions

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