Joe Biden should depoliticize COVID-19 vaccine, says Arthur Brooks
Author and social scientist Arthur Brooks says it’s time to depoliticize the COVID-19 vaccine and for the Biden administration to start over with its public health advisory team.
âIt’s political. It’s sociological. It’s psychological right now, âhe said.
âWe have to depoliticize. We have to move away from force and coercion and we have to really start working on trust and fear. These are the key elements, and we have gone in the wrong direction.
Brooks addressed a variety of topical issues on Friday in an hour-long discussion at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. Utah House President Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, facilitated the conversation for a small audience of local politicians and community and business leaders.
The author of several books, including “Love Your Enemies,” “The Conservative Heart,” and a new book to help people find success and their goal as they age called “From Strength to Strength,” Brooks spoke to several times to the Utah public over the years.
Utah, he said, has garnered a lot of national attention.
âThere is a possibility that Utah and Salt Lake City could help bring this country together again,â Brooks said.
Developing the COVID-19 vaccine is a moon-like achievement, but it’s an empty victory because so many people don’t trust public health officials, and “I understand why,” Brooks said. “It’s very politicized.”
National level public health leaders will not stand up and say schools should be open, said Brooks, a professor of management at Harvard Business School where he teaches a course on happiness. Public health data, he said, unequivocally indicates that schools should be open.
âWe need the President of the United States to stand up and say, ‘Open schools’. It would be a non-partisan thing to do, âhe said. âNon-partisan words are always more powerful when you stand by your side. “
Additionally, Brooks said President Joe Biden needs a new coronavirus team to “wipe out” what has really happened over the past two years, “a whole new team of people who haven’t fear”.
âI don’t want to slander anyone, but I think it’s very important to see new faces that are relentlessly apolitical,â Brooks said.
Public health officials must recognize that there is evidence that the virus originated in Wuhan, China, and that natural immunity is real, he said, noting that some studies show it is 27 times more potent than immunity vaccinated.
âWe are not stupid. It is very important that we have confidence in public health officials. And when we trust the public health officials and they say ‘Yes, these things are true and you have to go and get vaccinated for the sake of our community and for your sake,’ then people will, ‘ Brooks said.
âWhen you force people to do it, they don’t want to. Americans are funny like that, aren’t they?
Brooks, the former president of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, also discussed how to overcome people’s lack of trust in government institutions.
He called it a “national crisis” that lasted long before the COVID-19 pandemic. The US military is the only government entity that has gained confidence over the years, although it has also declined a bit in recent times, he said.
Even though the loss of trust in institutions is a problem, Brooks said he does not see it as a threat to American democracy.
âI think it’s a threat to American unity and the trust we can actually have in each other, which makes it impossible or really, really hard for us to do things. This trust issue is something we need to address, âhe said.
Political, community and business leaders must publicly fight against excesses on their side.
In a speech Thursday on the anniversary of the Jan.6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Biden said, “You can’t love your country only when you win.” Brooks applauded the statement as a wise and correct message, but for the wrong audience.
“He has to say this to the people of the cultural left who only believe in elections when Democrats win, who love America only when progressive things happen and who hate America and slander this whole country. and think we’re all a bunch of right-wing stooges when the Supreme Court has the wrong makeup or the wrong party gains control of Congress, âBrooks said.
“And the right has to do exactly the same.”
In addition, he said politicians on both sides must “be caught showing love”.
Brooks also touched on ways for leaders to depoliticize society at large, saying they shouldn’t use hot issues to gain partisan advantage by politicizing things that shouldn’t be political. It’s easy to make race or COVID-19 something that sets people on fire, he said.
âYou make it worse under the circumstances,â he said.
Brooks said he believes the partisanship that exists in the country will wane over the next five years.
âWe cannot keep this level of partisan energy around absolutely every issue,â he said. “It would be historically abnormal for the United States.”