In a new CBS News Battleground Tracker Poll conducted from Aug. 19-21, 57% of Republicans said that the number of Americans who have died from COVID-19 is “acceptable.”
Sixty-four percent of Republicans polled also said they think that the number of deaths reported — 176,464 as of Aug. 23, according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine — is a false number and they believe there have actually been fewer deaths from COVID-19 than the numbers say.
The CBS poll also shows that the perception of how things are going regarding the virus is in stark contrast to how Democrats are seeing things, with only 10% of Dems saying that the number of COVID-19 deaths is acceptable. Seventy-three percent of Republicans said that the way the U.S is dealing with coronavirus is going well, while only 27% of Democrats agreed with that statement.
Part of the reason for the discrepancy is that according to CBS, for Republicans, “the virus elicits less concern in the first place.”
Republicans Are Less Likely to Believe That COVID-19 Is Worth All the Fuss
The partisan divide is curious and also telling. According to Psychology Today, both Democrats and Republicans are greatly influenced by political polarization and it’s gotten to the point that even a pandemic causes more divisiveness, illustrating the power of mind over matter where politics are concerned.
“Partisan polarization changes empirical reality itself — at least in the eyes of individuals perceiving it,” Psychology Today reported. “The typically conservative pathogen-sensitivity of Republican voters is not being cued because COVID-19 is not perceived as a pathogen threat at all. It’s just another blip of liberal noise circulated to discredit a Republican President.”
According to CBS, “For most Republicans, America is a nation where the economy is still fairly good, where the effort to handle the coronavirus is going at least somewhat well and the president is doing a very good job on it.”
The reason it’s better, according to 82% of those polled, is mostly because of their confidence in President Donald Trump. Other reasons they gave were that the economy has improved and their own family’s financial outlook is good. But 70% said a big reason things are better is simply because Democrats are not in power.
Human Deaths Translated Into Numbers Removes Victims’ Humanity
Gregory A. Daddis, a professor and the USS Midway Chair in Modern U.S. Military History at San Diego State University is also a retired U.S. Army colonel who wrote a recent article called, Why the Dead Don’t Matter.
In his view, it has to do with war. Casualties of war have been turned to numbers for decades. People are used to hearing that thousands or hundreds of thousands of people died, yet they feel no real connection to those numbers, Daddis said.
“Two decades’ worth of foreign wars have conditioned us not to care all that much about human life,” Daddis wrote. He quotes historian Timothy Snyder who said that “during World War II, Nazi and Soviet regimes through their mass killing programs ‘turned people into numbers.’”
Daddis also points out that there has been no unified national mourning for the now 176,464 Americans who have died from COVID-19 this year. But he says, “The deaths of others do matter.”
Both Trump and Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden did acknowledge when America hit the 100,000 mark in deaths from coronavirus, albeit in different ways.
In May, when 100,000 Americans had died from COVID-19, President Trump ordered flags to be flown at half-mast for three days, writing in his proclamation, “Our Nation mourns for every life lost to the coronavirus pandemic, and we share in the suffering of all those who endured pain and illness from the outbreak. Through our grief, America stands steadfast and united against the invisible enemy.”
In reaction to America losing 100,000 people to COVID-19, Biden shared a national eulogy, saying in a taped video, “To all of you who are hurting so badly, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know there is nothing I or anyone else can say or do to dull the sharpness of the pain you feel right now, but I can promise you from experience the day will come when the memory of your loved one will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes… we all grieve with you.”