The Republican death wish

It would be one thing if they were just putting their own lives at risk, but that’s not how viruses work.

After Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins became the first to announce a mandatory stay-at-home rule, conservative groups including Empower Texans began ringing alarms in opposition to Jenkins and to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who they say paved the way for the move.

Abbott had said he would applaud local leaders who felt they should issue stay-at-home orders for their communities.

“I’m extremely concerned about what Dallas Co just did, and Abbott’s apparent sanctioning of it,” Empower Texans president Ross Kecseg wrote on Twitter.

So far, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is the highest-ranking state official to echo those concerns.

“What I’m living in fear of is what is happening to this country,” Patrick said in a Fox News interview. “I don’t want the whole country to be sacrificed.”

Patrick, who turns 70 next week, went on to say he’d be willing to risk his own life and well-being to help preserve the way of life for other Americans — a statement that drew harsh rebukes on social media and inspired hashtags such as #DieForTheDow.


Critics of the stay-at-home orders are contradicting the advice of public health authorities at every level of government, from the World Health Organization to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to local health officials. Epidemiologists have stressed that keeping people apart is the best way to fight back against a new virus for which there is no vaccine, and that aggressive early steps are the only way to get ahead of COVID-19.

The discord in Texas mirrors what’s going on at the national level with Republican governors showing more reluctance than Democratic ones, like Cuomo, to shutting down their states, said Timothy Callaghan, assistant professor of health policy and politics at the Texas A&M School of Public Health.

“On the one hand, they certainly want to protect the public health, but they are also afraid about hindering the freedoms of their citizens and they’re also concerned about the economic impact of having society in many ways shut down,” Callaghan said. “It’s a tricky balancing act for many politicians on the conservative side.”

Not only does that send Texans a mixed message but Callaghan said it could also reduce the effectiveness of the orders.

“If you want to see a true impact of flattening the curve throughout the state of Texas, it’s important for it to be a statewide policy,” Callaghan said. “Certainly in those areas that choose to enact some sort of shelter in place policy, you’re going to see some effect, but we don’t know if it’s going to be a smaller effect than if the entire state had chosen to do something.”

See here for the background. It’s not actually clear that they want to protect public health, since everyone who knows anything about public health and epidemiology is practically shouting from the rooftops that these shutdowns are necessary and we risk having literally millions of people die without them. Indeed, rightwing magazines are touting the virtues of deliberately spreading coronavirus, in a ridiculous and dangerous belief that it’s preferable to social distancing. I suspect there’s a certain amount of cognitive dissonance going on, since the one thing that can mitigate the economic impact of the stay-at-home orders is massive government action to put money in people’s pockets to replace the income they’d be losing, and that would seem to be the thing that Dan Patrick fears more than his own death. It’s clear that they’re taking their direction from Donald Trump, because that’s what they do these days and Trump is getting tired of the whole pandemic thing. It will be interesting to see if actual elected Republicans turn on Greg Abbott if he however reluctantly orders a statewide shutdown. In the meantime, I don’t know what there is to say other than there’s one way to get through this without a lot of people dying, and what these Republicans are agitating about is not it.

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8 Responses to The Republican death wish

  1. Jen says:

    This ‘reopen the economy’ stuff is all posturing, a Rovian talking point meant to set up the yokels for the next Big Lie, that the Libruls are to blame for the damage to the economy resulting from the virus and the countermeasures, and not Trump. This should work since almost all of the big city mayors are Dems. They are trying to get Abbott to take the hint.

  2. John Hansen says:

    Come on, Charles. One wingnut publishes a nutty op-ed and that makes it a harbinger of “right-wing” opinion? You can always find lunatic fringes on both ends of the political spectrum, but most of us have a stronger sense of self-preservation than that. And, shame on The Federalist for giving print space to such nonsense.

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    The thing is that the people who want everything to re-open, and profess not to care about risking their health or their lives, well, if they get a serious case of this virus, they probably won’t just stay at home and isolate, and either get better or die. No, they will probably take up a hospital spot, and let someone else get treated in a tent in the parking lot.

    On the other hand, there may be some truth in what they are saying. The culture of Italy, China, and other countries is different from the US. Italy has many adult children living with their parents, and grandparents, which means that elderly family members are regularly exposed to young relatives who are going out to work, school, nightclubs, etc. Also, Italians are known for kissing and hugging quite often.

    In China, public spaces are often very crowded. People whom I’ve known and have traveled to China said that the people there spit a lot. It’s one of the things that outsiders notice right away.

    The Japanese subway employees oshiya who push the passengers into the cars to cram them in.

    The Italians and Chinese have a high percentage of smokers, much higher than the US. The most polluted cities on the planet are in China. This could mean that those countries have more comprised lungs than the US. Also, Italy has one of the oldest median ages in the world. The US does not.

    Note to brad and CL: I’m just thinking here, speculating on how this pandemic may or may not act differently in the US. I’m not blaming anyone, and not mocking any culture, just thinking about how the different circumstances in the US may (or may not) be able to have a different response. I don’t have any scientific data, just musing aloud.

  4. brad says:


    Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick…the statewide elected second in command of the 2nd largest state in the USA is not a “right-wing lunatic fringe”. He is a leader of the traditional GOP. And Patrick was speaking to Fox News, the nationwide audience of the political base of the traditional GOP.

    You don’t see that?

  5. brad says:


    You are right that circumstances are different in each region/culture/nation.

    Unfortunately, Trump and his merry band of bumbling ass-kissers have poo-poo’ed our country’s response to the known seriousness of COVID-19.

    South Korea and the USA both had its first confirmed case on Jan 21. The S. Koreans took it seriously and quickly implemented clear, scientific, factual public health announcements along with testing which has dramatically arrested the increase of confirmed cases in their country.

    And, of course, we have Trump going on the news daily provided conflicting, unfactual and misleading statements, along with woefully inadequate numbers and late timing of virus testing….and our confirmed cases is going exponential as I type.

    I would not be surprised if Patrick isn’t posturing himself for the next Governor’s election to primary Abbott, if Abbott implements a statewide shutdown order.

  6. Flypusher says:

    ‘Come on, Charles. One wingnut publishes a nutty op-ed and that makes it a harbinger of “right-wing” opinion?’

    You need to do some more reading then, because it more than just “one wing nut”. For example, here’s something I posted on a previous thread:

    Glenn Beck is on board too. The Die-for-the-Dow bloc is real, sadly. But make no mistake, this first and foremost about protecting Trump. This is the biggest sunk-cost fallacy in human history.

  7. C.L. says:

    I guess #MAGA doesn’t mean spend some freakin’ money, starting in 2016 when you were briefed by the outgoing Administation (and re-upped by Jon Yong in The Atlantic in the summer of 2018) that this whole ‘a pandemic is gonna kill a whole lotta of us one day’ is some shit that’s gonna get real. Remember when the only foe we had to fear was the masses forming in Central America that were going to march thru Mexico and destroy our economy and upset our way of life ? Ah, those were the good ‘ole days..back when you could visually identify the yellow threat/brownies from south of the border that we out to get ya. Who woulda thunk we’d one day be under assault by a microscopic enemy, capable of breeding indiscriminately and freely passing one from individual to another.

    Turns out a whole lotta people had that thought, but weren’t able to, for one reason or another, do anything about it.

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