Donald Trump, during Tuesday’s ABC News Town Hall, cited “herd mentality” as he attempted to explain how he expects that the coronavirus will “disappear.” Trump probably meant to say, “herd immunity,” but “herd mentality” is an accurate description of what’s happening among Trump’s base as they unquestioningly follow his example of ignoring and downplaying the coronavirus.
When ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, who hosted the Town Hall, asked Trump if the coronavirus “would go away without the vaccine,” Trump responded, “Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time it goes away –”
“–And many deaths,”interjected Stephanopoulos.
“And you’ll develop, you’ll develop herd— like a herd mentality. It’s going to be— it’s going to be herd developed… and that’s going to happen. That will all happen,” said Trump.
Trump’s presumptuous commentary on a public health topic he knows nothing about has cost 200,000 American lives, and will cost many more. As long as Trump’s base buys his self-proclaimed authority on the subject, however, they will justify his— and consequently, their— non-action toward the virus.
Herd immunity is the theory that when a high percentage of the population is infected with the virus, they will develop a high rate of immunity among the general population, limiting the virus’ ability to spread, and eventually eradicating the virus. But in order for herd immunity to occur, 60 to 80 percent of the population would need to have antibodies to the virus. In order for this to take place, millions (not thousands) of Americans would have to die in the meantime.
Herd mentality, on the other hand, has already been achieved among the population of Trump’s base. Praising Trump for the “great job” he is doing at managing the spread of the virus, they disregard and even scorn the large body of evidence to the contrary. They follow Trump’s example of ignoring science and embracing a politicized approach to the coronavirus that puts them in danger, and identifies them as part of Trump’s herd.
Without fact-checking, they parrot memes and social media postings that provide defective “science” disputing the need to follow public health guidelines. They embrace conspiracy theories that the entire world is in on a plot to use the coronavirus pandemic to bring down Donald Trump. They cite half-truths and faulty “statistics” to show that the coronavirus isn’t as serious or deadly as the flu. And over and over, encouraged by their leader, Donald Trump, they crowd together, maskless, in large gatherings, including indoor rallies for their leader, himself.
Maybe Donald Trump’s “herd mentality” wasn’t the slip of the tongue we thought it was. He has certainly given evidence that, for some bizarre reason, he’d like for his “herd” to continue to follow the party line and place themselves in danger out of obeisance to him. He has clearly set up conditions where flouting public health guidelines and scoffing at mask-wearing and social distancing are seen as signs of loyalty to the party of Trump. What MAGA in his right mind would dare be caught, at the very least, not questioning the validity of the coronavirus? Trump doesn’t appear as concerned with the safety of his base as he is with a show of adherence to base-speak.
“If I die, I die,” said one Trump supporter at a recent packed Trump rally, when asked why he wasn’t wearing a mask. Like many other MAGAs, he appears to be willing to give up his life for, well, for what, really? The MAGAs will likely say that their cause is “freedom,” and that they are “patriots,” but how is it that a worthy “patriotic cause for freedom” involves endangering not only one’s own life in the name of a foolish choice, but also endangering the lives of countless innocent others, and robbing them of a choice?
The possibility of a vaccination against COVID-19 is becoming closer to reality, though health experts say that it may not be available to the general public till the end of 2021. In the meantime, Donald Trump’s base has picked up on the idea of herd immunity to justify ignoring pubic health guidelines and “living their lives,” despite the number of lives that will be lost to the coronavirus as a result. Yes, we’re a long way from herd immunity, but a segment of the population has achieved herd mentality.
Kayleigh McEnany: Trump was using a ‘medical term’ when he said ‘herd mentality’ will defeat virus | Raw Story [2020-09-16]
Trump Claims “Herd Mentality” Will Protect Against Coronavirus |
Late Night with Seth Meyers [2020-09-16]