With the omicron variant of COVID-19 top of mind this holiday season, the White House has returned to its favorite strategy: condescending scare tactics.
The White House webpage reads: “We are intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this. For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm.”
With such eyebrow-raising rhetoric, one could assume the Biden administration has simply misunderstood its audience. It’s a stretch to believe that the unvaccinated would receive the vaccine with open arms after being so condescendingly lectured. Yet shaming, talking down to, and alienating those not in line with the Democrats’ agenda is a common liberal tactic. In fact, this approach is almost identical to another of the Left’s pet issues: climate change.
In the way that vaccine-hesitant people have been labeled “science deniers,” so, too, have those skeptical of top-down, one-size-fits-all climate plans. This tone is indicative of whom President Joe Biden views as his true audience. The president isn’t trying to win anyone over. He’s looking to affirm the beliefs of those who already agree with him. It’s an odd approach from a president who ran for office on the ideas of unity and civility, and it certainly won’t be a coalition-builder.
COVID-19 and climate change are concerns for the people, but using alarmist and patronizing rhetoric toward those who express skepticism in vaccines or the efficacy of the administration’s climate plans is unacceptable. In fact, pushing for sweeping climate legislation, rather than targeted specific legislation, is likely what prompted West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin to kill the Build Back Better Act’s hopes in the Senate.
Perhaps following in Manchin’s footsteps, Biden’s fellow Democrats are beginning to see holes in the administration’s COVID-19 and climate strategies. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, for example, publicly called on the president to adjust his rhetoric on COVID-19 booster shots and be more sensitive to voters’ everyday concerns. It should be noted that Polis’s COVID-19 strategy has been popular among Coloradans, with cases decreasing without a statewide mask mandate.
To continue to address the challenges of both COVID-19 and climate change in our country, the administration must reexamine its priorities. If the goal is to have more people take the vaccine, perhaps condemning them as irresponsible and uneducated is not the best tactic. If the administration wants to address climate change, a sweeping bill that bitterly divided even the Democratic Party is not the way to go.
Despite what the administration may think, sewing seeds of fear through extremism does not yield progress. Yes, some people were vaccinated because they feared the implications of contracting COVID-19, but for those who have not gotten vaccinated, telling them they’re on their own will only embolden them to remain unvaccinated. For those who are not already deeply concerned with climate, minimizing the challenges they already are facing, such as increased gas prices, will not convince them that climate should be their No. 1 concern.
On both COVID-19 and the climate, the Biden administration needs to return to Earth.
Danielle Butcher is the executive vice president at the American Conservation Coalition.