The latest numbers on vaccination rates are telling: Mississippi has the lowest percentage of vaccinated residents, followed by Alabama, Arkansas, Wyoming, Louisiana, Georgia and Tennessee. All except Louisiana have both Republican governors and legislatures, as do the next seven on the list. Among the 14 U.S. senators representing the bottom seven, only two (both in Georgia) are Democrats. The Post reports, “Ten states, concentrated in the Deep South and rural West, report fewer than 35 percent of residents are fully immunized.”

Health care in these deep-red states is generally dreadful. Among the 12 states that have neither expanded nor voted to expand Medicaid, all but three have GOP governors and in those three (North Carolina, Kansas and Wisconsin), a Democratic governor faces a GOP legislature.

Of the 15 poorest states, all but two (Maine and New Mexico) are also deep red. Among the 30 Senate seats from those states, 27 are held by Republicans.

By these or just about any other measures, Republican states are failing to meet the basic needs of their residents. Among unvaccinated Americans, infection rates are climbing. More will get sick in those places, and some will die. Republicans are unwilling or incapable of meeting the challenge.

This sorry sight is unsurprising given that Republicans have all but given up on the notion of governance. At the national level, they consume themselves with race-baiting (e.g., scaring Americans about immigration and critical race theory), assailing private companies (e.g., corporations that defend voting rights, social media platforms, book publishers) and perpetrating the most ludicrous and dangerous lie in memory — that the 2020 election was stolen.

As Reason Magazine’s Peter Suderman wrote recently for the New York Times, the GOP “no longer has a cognizable theory of government.” They claim to be economic populists but oppose raising any taxes on the rich and corporations, decry union organizing and attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Freedom” used to be a central theme, but they are on a crusade to criminalize abortion and compel unwilling women to endure nine months of pregnancy — even in cases of rape or incest. They are also in favor of ordering teachers not to teach unfavorable facts about America.

Once upon a time, Republicans claimed to be for “law and order” and friends of the police; then came the grifter-in-chief and the Jan. 6 insurrection. Republicans used to present themselves as free market advocates; then they decided free trade and robust legal immigration were objectionable. And while Republicans used to consider corporations people with First Amendment rights (with the right to make campaign donations), now, they are willing to punish corporations that do not adhere to their agenda.

One might wonder from time to time why Republicans even bother running for election. Because they have so little interest in governing (other than in protecting tax cuts for the rich, shielding the gun lobby from reasonable regulation and dictating women’s reproductive choices), they might as well take on the role of social media trolls and right-wing media guests full-time.

In truth, a great many Republicans simply like to be “important people” with the perks of holding office. It seems the notion of finding other work causes them to break out in a cold sweat, so they adopt insane MAGA positions so as not to offend the mob they helped rile up. Certainly, there are true believers who believe Trumpian rubbish and take right-wing TV hosts’ conspiracies as gospel, but they are a distinct minority. Time and again, we hear from Republican dissenters that most of their colleagues do not really believe the MAGA party lies; what they believe in is the necessity of their own reelection.

Democrats should be more blunt in castigating Republicans who are not even trying to serve their constituents. They should say it often and simply: Republicans have little to nothing to offer anyone but the very rich. They rely on scaring and enraging their base both to distract from their lack of interest in governing and to goad supporters to turn out to defeat Democrats. And now, they want to make it harder for critics to vote them out of office. What a racket.

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