Of fake vaccine cards and the cult of American selfishness | Dick Polman

A Berks County school system employee gets the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, 3/15/21 (Commonwealth Media Services screen capture)

Republican pollster Frank Luntz recently met with 17 vaccine-resisting Trump voters to better understand why they won’t take the simple step of protecting themselves and their fellow citizens.

Dick Polman Cagle Syndicate photo

Their answers were predictably ignorant.

One guy said, “I mean, we’re just going to be shot up and shot up and shot up. We can’t live like this. This is not sustainable.” One woman complained about “being bullied, being humiliated, basically, by the media. I don’t really see the point in getting it if nothing is going to change, and I haven’t gotten sick.”

But the piece de resistance was their enthused opinion about fake vaccination cards. They want one. If they were to get one, think of all the freedom they would have!

The cult of American selfishness is truly a phenomenon to behold. One woman in the Luntz focus group said she’s “1,000 percent” in favor of obtaining a fake card with the CDC logo (widely available these days on eBay and elsewhere) so that she could do anything she wants.

And one guy said, “If I have a fake vaccine card, yeah, I can go anywhere,” especially to ballgames in parks – like Yankee Stadium – that currently require proof of vaccination. Others at the focus group table shared their desire to go to concerts or go on trips where proof of shots is mandatory.

These people are contemptible.

Their concern for the community is zero. Their self-absorption is total. Their determination to commit fraud and walk among us – to breathe among us – will spread COVID-19 (especially the variants), extend the pandemic, sicken more people and kill more people. Every health expert says this, but alas, as we well know, Freedom-lovers don’t like it when the “elites” try to “bully” them.

Ask yourself this question: As life incrementally returns to something resembling normal, would you want to eat inside a restaurant next to an unvaccinated idiot with a fake CDC card? Or stand shoulder to shoulder at a concert?

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As Nenette Day, an assistant special agent in the federal Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office, reportedly says, “It disturbs me, having been in law enforcement this long, this flippant attitude that people have.”

What explains this flippancy? It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots.

There is much to admire in the American creed, as we who love this country can attest. But the pandemic continues to expose the worst of us – most notably our selfish individualism. There’s a crackpot belief, shared by millions, that “freedom” is a license to be irresponsible toward others, and that any requirement to care for the welfare of others is some kind of commie nanny-state diktat.

After all, one of the bibles on the American right is Ayn Rand’s The Virtues of Selfishness (“To hold one’s own life as one’s ultimate value, and one’s own happiness as one’s highest purpose, are two aspects of the same achievement”). And the current icon is Donald Trump, who codified selfishness last year when he said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” In normal times, these strains of individualism are merely obnoxious. Today, they’re downright dangerous.

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President Joe Biden is demonstrating that government can actually work – more than 200 million vaccination shots in less than 100 days – but his administration can’t bring America back on a decent timetable if so many people plan to “own the libs” by obtaining fake vaxx cards and spreading more disease. Haven’t we suffered enough already?

Tammy from Virginia said in the Luntz focus group, “I was zero (on) the vaccine. I’m still a zero.” Yes, she certainly is.

Excuse me if that sounds like “bullying.” I’m just thinking of the welfare of others, even if Tammy is not.

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may email him at [email protected]