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[Commentary] GOP Voters Wonder Why Republicans Are Getting COVID-19 More — And Jump To Strange Conclusions

COVID-19 is apolitical and nonpartisan. From the public response, especially from legislators, that might be hard to believe, since a peek at someone’s voter registration could give betting odds on whether they think the virus is a massive hoax or a serious public health concern. The virus itself, though, doesn’t care. This seems to have left Republicans across America in the dark, trying to figure out why the pandemic seems to hit right-wing political figures most frequently.

Republicans get COVID, voters get conspiracy theories
[Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images]

On the most superficial level, causality for a virus is simple: the person who contracted it was exposed, and did not have the antibodies to fight it off before becoming ill. That turns contracting COVID-19, in particular, into a lottery of sorts — and some folks are just buying more tickets than others. Now, just like the person who has never bought a lottery ticket in her life can buy that first one and become a millionaire, anyone who is getting any exposure at all — going to work, getting groceries delivered, attending a necessary doctor appointment — can certainly get sick. Still, those who refuse to wear masks, insist on joining mass gatherings *cough*RoseGarden*cough*, and otherwise refuse to take even minimal precautions certainly increase their risks.

So, what’s the conclusion that Trump’s fans reach instead? They reckon Democrats must be secretly and deliberately infecting Republicans, somehow without getting sick themselves. (Side note: some elected Democrats have contracted the virus, and voters across all parties have become sick or even died — it’s just that when there are masses, like after Trump’s no-social-distancing event to introduce Supreme Court Justice (then-nominee) Amy Coney Barrett, it’s much more noticeable than when one individual gets sick and isolates.) Parler Takes collected the following screenshots from the platform that has become a MAGA favorite.

“I guarantee there is a Democratic mole infecting people.”
“How come no Democrats are getting COVID?”
“Crazy how only Republicans get COVID-19.”

Leaders of right-wing movements are also spreading the same conspiracies. After Donald Trump’s positive COVID-19 test a few months ago, YouTube conspiracy theorist Chris McDonald posited a theory that Democrats might have intentionally infected the president, in order to stop him from campaigning and make him lose the election.

DeAnna Lorraine, a failed Republican Congressional candidate who, since then, was hired as a InfoWars host, only to have her show canceled in short order, also suggested that Democrats might have given the president an infected microphone at the Presidential debate, even questioning whether it could be considered an assassination attempt.

The saying “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras” might have arisen in the medical field, but it applies here too: when seeing someone ill with a communicable disease, that passes really well when people gather closely and don’t take precautions, and that someone happens to be a person who isn’t taking precautions, it’s a lot more likely that they contracted the virus by not taking precaustions, than that there’s some nefarious plot to sneakily infect Republican legislators.



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