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In Current Affairs This Week: A Personal Note
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I wanted to send out this personal message. This week, Important Context’s Walker Bragman was in Current Affairs with an article about how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis carved out a niche for his presidential campaign within the Trump-loyal Republican base.
To briefly recap the piece, the governor has been leaning heavily into COVID denialism, encouraging frustration over past viral mitigation efforts and embracing the right-wing medical fringe, including individuals who have encouraged anti-vaccine sentiment, even deploying them to craft Florida’s public health policy.
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For the article, we spoke with Dr. Peter Hotez, a renowned vaccine scientist who developed a patent-free COVID vaccine for use in poor nations at a time when companies like Pfizer and Moderna were prioritizing wealthy countries.
Hotez expressed his alarm at how mainstream COVID denialism and anti-vaccine sentiment is. As the doctor pointed out, two presidential candidates this cycle are running on anti-public health platforms—DeSantis and anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr.
How much of the anti-public health messaging is sincere and how much is cynical politicking is an open question. The pandemic has enabled the worst in many people, generating fear, uncertainty, and confusion among the population along with the grief. It has been a destabilizing event that demagogues—like some of the people we report on—have taken advantage of.
Unfortunately, however, the question of DeSantis‘ sincerity matters less and less. Should he win the GOP presidential nomination against an increasingly embattled Donald Trump, the Florida governor will bring his anti-public health case to the general electorate—with the full force of the right-wing messaging apparatus and Republican Party behind him.
It is a chilling prospect. You can read the full article in Current Affairs here.
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