The phrase “Two Americas,” that Martin Luther King Jr. used to criticize society’s distinction between whites and Blacks in 1967, is reemerging after 50 years. Infectious disease experts have begun to define the U.S. as seriously split in two due to the varying vaccination rates amid the resurgence of COVID-19 cases. There is concern that vaccine availability may cause gaps in health, employment and economic power among the states.
Despite President Joe Biden encouraging vaccinations, the failure to cross the 70% threshold of vaccinating U.S. adults with their first vaccine dose is a result of the political orientation of each state. It is due to states that have many Republicans and supporters of former President Donald Trump, such as Arkansas, Missouri and Texas, that strongly reject not only mask-wearing but also vaccinations. At first there was hesitation about getting vaccinated, but combined with the “election fraud” conspiracy theories, there are now open protests against vaccinations. Petition drives seeking signatures against vaccination are being launched. Coincidentally, the delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading quickly in these regions.
President Biden proposed a door-to-door campaign in an effort to increase people’s access to vaccines. He claimed that vaccine misinformation on social networking services, such as Facebook, is like ”killing people,” and urged strong countermeasures. But conservatives are opposed to this, calling it the “Big Brother Law”* (government surveillance of the people). It will be difficult to reach a national consensus, even with the direct connection between health and COVID-19 countermeasures.
There is also great tension in the relationship between the former and current presidents. At the Conservative Political Action Conference on July 11, former President Trump discussed election fraud and asserted that “the radical left is not the majority in this country. We are the majority,” President Biden responded by quoting former President Trump’s words that this was a “Big Lie.” It is this kind of verbal jousting that causes the people to become more divided.
President Biden, who stated “My whole soul is in this: bringing America together,” at his inauguration in January, marked his six months in office on July 20. Despite laying the foundation for an economic rebound with a large-scale plan to stimulate the economy, it is difficult to repair the long-standing distrust and conflict between progressives and conservatives. There tend to be conflicts with the Republicans on issues such as restrictions on voting rights, the $4 trillion infrastructure and family planning bills, and immigration measures. Racism and hate crimes are also big social issues.
Upon reflection, the country’s evaluation of President Biden is “average.” According to a Gallup poll, President Biden had a 56% approval rate last month, in which he ranks seventh among the previous 10 presidents, based on their first six months. Though he received an astounding 95% approval rating from Democrats, he only received an 11% approval rating from Republicans. If things go wrong, he may end up being the half-president of a U.S. that is split in two. For this reason, it has become more important than ever to widely embrace support for unity and healing so that President Biden can use the government’s power to “Build Back Better.”
*Editor’s note: This quote, accurately translated, could not be verified.