Those of us waiting to get our first jab wince at your public status displays of Covid immunity.
If you’re a youngest child, you have a story that goes like this. Once, when I was little, my parents snuck out of the house with my two older siblings to see Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap. The movie was released in 1961, so I must have been 3. What I know, based perhaps on memory or perhaps on family lore, is that when I got wind of this betrayal I wailed like a banshee. My late first wife, also the youngest of three siblings and the same age as me to the day, remembered (or remembered family stories about) a parallel betrayal around the very same movie.
Now my older siblings are eligible to get vaccinated because they are 65 or older and I am not. My sister Patsy has been vaccinated twice. Oh great, I told her. I’m still getting left home with the babysitter only now you could die from not seeing The Parent Trap. She felt I was overreacting.
I kid, of course. But also not, or anyway not so much when I log onto Twitter and I see people showing off their Covid jabs. I don’t begrudge the ones who became eligible because they suffer special medical conditions, or because they’re working the front lines as doctors or teachers or grocery workers, or even because they’re sitting Covid ducks in prison. These folks are at particular risk. But the ones who got to the front of the line just by being two years older than me? I’d rather they kept a lower public profile. The I-just-got-vaxxed tweet is to 2021 what the here’s-my-$500-Hamilton-pasteboard tweet was to 2016. With, of course, the common theme of “I am not throwin’ away my shot.”
America being a land of competitive status hierarchies, there dwells within it an alternative subculture so determined not to fear Covid that vaccine tweets are more likely to inspire contempt than envy. Members of this subculture have been known to beat up people who ask them to put on a mask. Sometimes these creeps beat up people merely for wearing a mask themselves.
So when two officials at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this morning asked CPAC’s MAGA-mad attendees to put on their goddamned masks, they were probably lucky to get out of the room alive. The officials invoked the rule of law—the conference is in Orlando, the county seat of Orange County, Fla., where mask-wearing is required in public spaces—but conservative reverence for law and order isn’t what it was before Jan. 6. The officials also invoked the property rights of the Hyatt Regency Orlando. But that didn’t go over too well, either. In my latest New Republic column, I unpack all this, as the kids say, and consider whether John Locke has any future in the Trump-dominated GOP.