Relative to Trump, Biden has a reality problem. Biden’s supporters generally have a realistic view of him, seeing Joe as a well-meaning, decent old man who is probably not up to enduring another four years as President. In contrast, the Trump existing in the minds of his base barely resembles the real Trump, except (ironically) in terms of his worst traits and deeds. Biden also does not have the propaganda machinery of Fox News and its more extreme fellows, and his supporters include people who listen to NPR and check facts. As such a propaganda campaign of disinformation is not an option for poor Joe.

While I am wary of conspiracy theories, if we look at Hilary Clinton’s 2016 run and what Biden is doing now, it would not be unreasonable to think that the ruling elites of the Democratic party are intentionally throwing elections. One could also infer that the party is suffering from an ego problem in that some candidates are unwilling or unable to honestly assess their chances. In any case, the Democrats continue to disappoint, the Republicans seem intent on turning America into a white Christian nationalist authoritarian oligarchy griftocracy, and no third party is up to the task of challenging them. Given my values, which I am happy to debate, Biden is still by far the better choice. While I do think that even a fully senile Biden would be better than Trump, my main reason for supporting Biden is, well, everything else that goes with the presidency. While Biden and the Democrats do ably serve the ruling elites, they also endeavor to make things less bad for everyone else and value competence to some degree. Trump, if he follows the Project 2025 plan, will be creating that white Christian nationalist authoritarian oligarchy griftocracy. This will be bad for everyone, including white Christians, who are not economic elites who have the resources to endure the harm this project will inflict. So how can Biden win?

Interestingly, the Supreme Court just gave Biden the tool he needs to easily win, if he were only the sort of person Trump and Fox News claim he is. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted, the ruling on presidential immunity would have the following effect: “Orders the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune,” she wrote. “Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.” While I am not a constitutional scholar, based on the text of the ruling and dissent, Joe could take a wide range of official actions to neutralize Trump and perhaps much of MAGA and ensure he remains in office. Ironically, Trump and his MAGA Supreme Court judges know this is a safe move: unlike Trump, Biden will not do any of these things, even to preserve the United States from the destruction that Trump will bring. But he could and there are presumably those who would argue that he should, for example, send the Joe Commandoes to neutralize Trump and, while they are at it, other key MAGA figures, such as six supreme court justices. But, once again, they know that while Trump will run wild with this ruling, Biden will not—which is yet another reason why Biden should be president rather than Trump. But are there ways for Biden to beat Trump? One option is to use a third-party candidate to pull votes from Trump.

While third-party candidates have proven useful in winning elections, there are moral questions about intentionally using this tactic. One concern is the matter of deceit. Suppose that shadowy Democratic party operatives were to support, for example, RFK in ways that would draw votes away from Trump. This raises stock moral concerns about deception and manipulation. Because of my ethics, I could not endorse this tactic. Fortunately, I can openly encourage people who would otherwise vote for Trump to vote for RFK and do so in an ethical manner by being completely honest. I also openly encourage those Democratic operatives to use this tactic.

Perhaps the only time the MAGA base openly disagreed with Trump and booed him was when he admitted to getting a COVID-19 booster. This indicates that for at least some of the base, their anti-vax ideology is stronger than their MAGA commitment. This presents an opportunity to peel some voters away from Trump.

Trump was initially baffled by the anti-vax sentiments, as were some other Republicans (such as Ron DeSantis), and while they have been happy to change their rhetoric to appeal to these voters, they are not true believers. After all, they all got vaxxed because they knew it would protect them from a dangerous disease. More importantly, one significant achievement of the Trump administration was Operation Warp Speed which resulted in effective vaccines being developed at, well, warp speed. While I generally loath Trump, he and his administration deserve praise for this as despite their other failures, these vaccines saved lives and prevented serious illnesses. So, thank you President Trump for those vaccines. Ironically, this accomplishment can be weaponized against him.

Two of Trump’s many weaknesses are that he loves praise and loves to take credit, as such the success of Operation Warp Speed is something he would very much love to claim. But he also realizes that this objectively good success is seen very differently by his anti-vax base. As such, he has largely stopped talking about it. This, of course, is a situation that can be exploited in a way that allows complete honesty.

Biden and Democrats should praise Trump for the success of Warp Speed and emphasize how he and other Republicans served as role models by taking the COVID-19 vaccines. Unedited, honest clips of him praising the project and recommending the vaccine should be used. But how will this help peel off votes? Fortunately, or unfortunately, RFK is a solid anti-vax candidate who appeals to his fellow conspiracy theorists. That he has admitted to having a worm in his brain presumably only boosts his potential appeal to some elements of the MAGA base. While this is morally dubious at best, Democrats could assist RFK by promoting his anti-vax credentials and contrasting them with Trump’s. To avoid being evil, they would need to steer clear of promoting anti-vax disinformation. This is certainly a viable option since the goal is to get existing anti-vaxxers who would otherwise vote for Trump (but never Biden) to switch to RFK and not to create more anti-vaxxers.  But at this point I think people are probably set in their views on vaccines. There is, of course, a risk of pulling liberal anti-vaxxers away from Biden to RFK and this should be considered before this tactic is used. Fortunately for the Democrats, it is the Republicans who have largely embraced an anti-vax approach within their broader commitment to disinformation and misinformation. As such, this tactic would hurt Trump more than Biden.

While it might be wondered if the effort would be worth it, since this tactic is unlikely to peel off many MAGA voters. However, while Clinton and Biden trounced Trump by millions of votes, the electoral college is such that pulling a few votes away from Trump in key locations could make a difference. Assuming, of course, that votes will even matter in MAGA controlled zones.

2 thoughts on “Weaponizing Vaccines Against Trump

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