Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The White House’s Comments on Unvaccinated Americans: Brazen truth or divisive rhetoric?

December 20, 2021

~ 5 minutes read

On Friday, White House Health Officials held a briefing on the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

One specific statement from the briefing later sparked debate on both the left and right. During the briefing, Jeff Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said:

 

“We are intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this. For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm.”

Below, we break down the reactions to this statement on both the left and the right.

What else is each side focusing on?
  • Mr. Zients is only stating the truth.
  • The White House is dodging its responsibilities by blaming unvaccinated people.
The Narrative

This harsh rhetoric is warranted because unvaccinated people have long refused to listen to reason. It’s good that the White House is being truthful and transparent about the risks associated with being unvaccinated.

The White House is trying to wriggle out of its responsibilities to the American people by blaming the unvaccinated for its failed policies. By using such hateful and divisive rhetoric, the White House is exacerbating existing divisions.

How could a reasonable person come to think this?

To people on the left, protecting vulnerable people in society is a primary concern, and refusal to get vaccinated puts vulnerable people at risk.

To people on the right, politicians are using the pandemic to implement far-reaching policies that severely limit individual liberties — especially the right for people to decide for themselves how to lead their lives.

What else is the left focusing on?

  • Mr. Zients is only stating the truth. 

 

The narrative: This harsh rhetoric is warranted because unvaccinated people have long refused to listen to reason. It’s good that the White House is being truthful and transparent about the risks associated with being unvaccinated. 

 

How could a reasonable person come to think that?

To people on the left, protecting vulnerable people in society is a primary concern, and refusal to get vaccinated puts vulnerable people at risk.  

What is the right focusing on?

  • The White House is dodging its responsibilities by blaming unvaccinated people. 

 

The narrative: The White House is trying to wriggle out of its responsibilities to the American people by blaming the unvaccinated for its failed policies. By using such hateful and divisive rhetoric, the White House is exacerbating existing divisions.

 

How could a reasonable person come to think that?

To people on the right, politicians are using the pandemic to implement far-reaching policies that severely limit individual liberties — especially the right for people to decide for themselves how to lead their lives. 

Because the left is prioritizing the protection of vulnerable people while the right is prioritizing individual liberties, conflict arises between the two sides about how we, as a community, should proceed.

But before we write off our contra partisans as brainwashed, stupid, or evil, it’s helpful to remind ourselves that, although our desired outcome is the same (minimizing death/disease), our vision for how to get there differs. Both people on the left and right are advocating for actions which align with their values, trying to do what’s best based on their worldview.

Notable Amplifiers

What do you think? Do you agree with one side, or do you fall somewhere in between? Give us feedback on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, or by emailing info@narrativesproject.com.