By Cash Michaels –
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican, is taking the opposite position about vaccinations from that of several of his party’s top leadership.
Saying that “individual liberty” is how North Carolinians should navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, Robinson, during his August 2nd weekly videoed “Monday Monologue” on Facebook, and in earlier public appearances, maintained that “it should be left up to individuals if they want to wear masks,” or receive the Covid-19 vaccines. “It is not my job, as an elected official, to convince anyone to take the vaccine, coerce anyone to take the vaccine, or dissuade anyone from taking the vaccine,” he said.
The Republican lieutenant governor then virtually capped his remarks by saying that his only role is to provide the necessary information about the vaccine to North Carolinians “to make that informed decision, along with your health care provider, and then make sure that if you want the vaccine, you can get the vaccine…”
Remarks Elicit Praise and Dispute
Robinson won plenty of plaudits and kudos from Facebook followers of his video post. But what they didn’t hear there is what he told the conservative Wake County Taxpayers Association during its July 29th monthly meeting at NC State’s McKimmon Center in Raleigh, where Robinson indeed tried to dissuade the audience from considering taking the vaccine, telling them he’s spoken with medical personnel who are against it.
“I know cardiologists, neurologists … I know podiatrists, I know urologists … none of them want the vaccine” a video of Robinson’s remarks show him saying. He did not mention any epidemiologists or virologists, however—the two types of medical specialists who actually know about viruses and vaccines—or any public health officials.
In response, columnist Rob Schofield wrote about Robinson’s hypocritical remarks in the August 6th edition of NC Policywatch. “The highest-ranking Republican in North Carolina state government is irresponsibly endangering human lives and needs to stop,” he wrote.
What really riled the Black conservative’s critics was his declaration that any elected official who pushes people to take the vaccine “should be voted out of office! It is not your job to convince anybody to take that vaccine. That’s not your job!”
Infections Up, But Not Vaccinations
Robinson’s admonishment to fellow elected officials flies in the face of documented, and disturbing, numbers showing that North Carolina’s coronavirus virus cases are dramatically going back up, primarily in counties across the state that are the least vaccinated. His remarks are also at odds with those of top Republicans in the state, and the nation, who have recently been urging their constituencies to get the shot to be better protected against serious coronavirus infection, and possibly death.
Democratic and Republican Officials Disagree
Robinson’s controversial remarks are in direct contradiction to the efforts of Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and top state health officials to convince as many of the unvaccinated as possible to “get the shot” in an effort to stem further spread of the new Delta variant amongst those who have chosen not to be vaccinated. Surprisingly, however, he also is taking a position very different from some of his fellow Republicans.
“As you know, the Delta variant of Covid-19 is more contagious than earlier strains, and it’s important to make sure we all take care of ourselves and others,” US Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said in an August 2nd statement. “If you have any questions or concerns, please talk with your doctor about the vaccine…. It is safe and effective, and our best tool at beating this virus.”
Sen. Tillis himself contracted the original Covid-19 strain last year.
Powerful Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is reportedly battling a coronavirus infection right now and has said he is lucky to have taken the vaccine when he did; he has also urged former President Donald Trump to push more of his followers to get the shot, as he did in January before leaving office. Trump infamously contracted the virus late last year and received special treatment from government doctors to overcome the illness.
Unlike Tillis, his former state House colleague, Republican NC House Speaker Tim Moore straddled the fence in his recommendation.
“I have personally been vaccinated against Covid-19, and I have done my best to help educate the public and urge others to get vaccinated if they choose to do so,” Moore said in a July 27 Facebook post. “But at the end of the day, the decision whether or not to vaccinate is a personal one and should be made between a doctor and patient.”
Some in GOP Agree with Robinson
On the flip side, there are still Republican leaders who side with Robinson in sowing doubt about the vital need for the Covid-19 vaccines and protection, to stem the growing spread.
State Senate President pro tem Phil Berger, also a Republican, in a recent campaign letter, told supporters that guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the continued wearing of protective masks was “guidance to ignore,” because it was, he wrote, a way for White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, the media, and liberals “to control the American people.”
A spokesman for Sen. Berger later tried to clean up his inflammatory language.
And Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC-11) spoke at a recent Buncombe County School Board meeting, telling officials there that “forcing our children to wear a mask is nothing short of psychological child abuse … period.”
Cawthorn made his remarks after the board voted to require students and school staffs to wear protective masks during the upcoming school year.
Parties, Schools, Businesses at Odds on Vaxxing
A recent national poll by Monmouth University shows that 31% of self-identified Republicans say they “will likely never get vaccinated against Covid-19,” despite growing evidence that the new Delta variant is more dangerous.
In recent weeks local school boards, depending on the level of vaccinations in their respective counties, either have mandated masks for students and personnel for the upcoming school year, or not. A number of local governments have mandated protective masks for anyone entering their government buildings.
Many large businesses have not only again required masks for customers for customers to enter, but some are leaning toward requiring people to show proof of vaccination as well, something many libertarians cringe at.
And amid a recent protest in Raleigh by over 100 health care workers last week, more than 50 Republican state House lawmakers, in a letter to the CEOs of major health care systems across North Carolina like Novant Health and Atrium Health, asked that they reconsider their respective decisions to require all employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 infection “in order to keep their jobs.”
In his recent remarks, Lt. Gov. Robinson made it clear that he was against vaccination mandates, regardless of the stated goals of Gov. Roy Cooper and other state officials to lower North Carolina’s growing rate of infection. Many across the state are alarmed that the lieutenant governor is actively working against the best efforts of the state government to save lives that he was elected to serve.