September 13, 2021 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

Why should we trust GOP leaders and voters who reliably demonstrate their lawlessness?

They say they’ll quit en masse. They won’t. They say they won’t do what they’re told. They will. They will do what they’re told, then lie about it.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

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The day after the president issued a vaccine mandate last week that affects about 100 million workers, CNBC released a poll showing that of a minority of Americans still holding us back from reaching herd immunity, 83 percent said nothing would change their minds. A few days prior to that, the Post released a poll showing 72 percent would quit their jobs if mandates did not provide a “religious” exemption. This morning, a local TV station reported that Republican Governor Ron DeSantis would lead an anti-vaccine rally in rural Florida. All of this has the press corps wondering what Joe Biden is going to do.

Before they ask that question, however, they should be asking themselves another: Why believe anything these people say? They have decided what they will do and what they won’t do, and they have rationalized their way toward that already determined conclusion using a grotesque process of intellectual dishonesty that’s aided and abetted by grifters and corrupt political leaders. And then there’s the anti-vaxxers who have decided against taking a free, safe and effective vaccine in favor of spending their hard-earned money on ivermectin, which might be safe and might be effective, but almost certainly is not, as Lindsay Beyerstein has said. Why are we trusting people who lie to themselves? Why are we trusting people who inject sheep drench?

Convictions are built on rock. Beliefs are built on sand. By ordering a federal vaccine mandate, the president is calling their bluff.

Remember the difference between belief and conviction. Beliefs are cheap and easy. Convictions are hard and expensive. If people who eat horse paste genuinely believed eating horse paste would save them from “tyranny,” then the president might really have a problem on his hands, one of his own making. But then again, these people are willingly and freely eating horse paste! It’s not out of some sense of conviction, but because someone lied to them, and it felt super-duper good to believe that lie. And since “everyone” is doing it, why not do it, too? Convictions are built on rock. Beliefs are built on sand. By ordering a vaccine mandate, the president is calling their bluff.

It is a bluff, make no mistake. Here’s how you’ll know for sure. We are going to see two things that should not co-exist, but totally co-exist, because honesty plays a minimal role in these people’s lives. Those two things are 1) polls showing resistance to vaccine mandates and 2) corporate reports showing compliance with vaccine mandates — at the same time. The polls will be of workers. The reports will come from their employers. One of these should cancel the other, but won’t.

Remember some of these people are injecting sheep drench. It should not be difficult to imagine an anti-vaccine employee of Disney, say, getting the shot in the morning, because his boss said so, then attend an anti-vaccine rally led by the Republican governor that evening. You might be thinking: You can’t do both! You would be absolutely correct — if we were talking about honest people. But we are already seeing this pattern play out. They say they’ll quit en masse. They won’t. They say they won’t do what they’re told. They will. They will do what they’re told, then lie about having done what they’re told. Cheap and easy! 

Here’s the tip jar!

It should be clear to the respectable white people who will determine the results of the coming midterms that they can’t trust people who will do what they’re told and then lie about it. What they can trust is a president laying down the law. (More on that in a minute.) Grifters, strategists and the most corrupt Republicans are making resistance to vaccine mandates seem noble. They are trying to cast themselves as freedom fighters! They are trying, in other words, to revive the old tea party. While the methods are the same — billionaires funneling cash to astro-turf operatives — the spirit is different. The tea party had credibility among respectable white people. Anti-vaxxers do not. 

What isn’t clear to respectable white people is that there is an honest minority inside the dishonest minority. Both are holding us back from reaching herd immunity, but only one threatens violence. This minority of the minority? True Believers who will quit their jobs in the belief that comrades will be by their sides. These are the people who will feel betrayed on discovering their comrades not only didn’t quit but act like they didn’t do what they’re told. While their comrades are fine with getting the vaccine in the morning before attending an anti-vaccine rally in the evening, this honest minority can’t tolerate so much bullshit. They will come to see the bullshit as something that prevents “a hero” from doing what “no one has the guts to do.”

If and when the violence comes, it will be tempting to blame Joe Biden. But mandates are no more of a source of violence than regular law and order is. The president is laying down the law for a sizable minority that is fundamentally lawless. (For instance, DeSantis warned Florida businesses this morning that his administration will fine them $5,000 per instance if they comply with federal law.) More importantly, the president is laying down the law to instill public trust. It’s for the benefit of law-abiding Americans who have honored their obligations. I hope respectable white people remember two Novembers from now.

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.


  1. Bern on September 13, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    As I responded to your colleague Lindsay, some blankety-blank verse is in order.

    In re ivermectin propectin’ – the only proper response from medical professionals is to go all medieval on ’em:

    Matters not what thou chooseth to sayst now
    Nor what games thou pretendeth to playst now
    ‘Cause unless thou’rt equine
    I must heeds decline
    To inject thine fat arse with horse payst now

    Needless to say, there’s always another side to an argument, vis the Big Liars’ Club:

    To all patriots, Make Haste!
    There’s not a moment to waste!
    Don’t mean to upset you
    But Covid will get you
    Unless you buy lots of Horse Paste®!

    Grift early and often…

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