Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Let's play simple answers to to naive questions
: "Will the Ebola crisis play a role in the fall's elections?" When have Republicans ever, ever resisted the opportunity to fearmonger? When have they ever resisted Terruh!!!! Case in point, Thursday's hearing about Ebola panic
, during which a prevalent theme emerged from Republicans: Travel bans!
And why hasn't President Obama closed our borders?!
We've got Scott Brown in New Hampshire, House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas, not to mention David Perdue of Georgia, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Joni Ernst of Iowa as well as Thom Tillis in North Carolina, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Toss in Glenn Beck and Laura Ingraham and you've got a passle o' tea party.
That tea party element here is pretty critical, as noted by Joan Walsh in analyzing the latest NBC/WSJ poll:
Some 56 percent of Americans say the government is prepared to handle Ebola, including 61 percent of Democrats. But that number is flipped on its head when you ask Tea Party voters: 57 percent of them say the government is not prepared, as do 54 percent of rural voters. So two core components of the GOP red-state base coalition don’t trust the federal government, in the person of President Obama, to keep them safe—and there's some political opportunity for Republicans in those numbers. When Texas Sen. Ted Cruz continues to insist "I remain concerned that we don’t see sufficient seriousness on the part of the federal government about protecting the American public," those are the voters he’s talking to.
These, of course, are the people who demand that government is too big already, and must be cut. They are the people who are convinced that the federal government is incapable of doing anything, and vote in the lawmakers who will starve the government in order to make that true. Then they all gnash their teeth and rend their garments over President Obama not keeping us safe, and demand that he take unilateral executive action—a travel ban. In the meantime, they're suing
Obama for his executive actions.
Travel bans, however, are a bad option, an option could make the epidemic even worse in Western Africa, as the CDC's director Tom Frieden continues valiantly to explain. Banning travel would make it much harder to get medical personnel to the countries affected, because they wouldn't be able to leave again, and "because of that, it will enable the disease to spread more widely there and ultimately, potentially spread more to other countries in Africa and become more of a risk to us here." It also would mean that health officials would have a much more difficult time tracking people with symptoms, because travel bans could force people who have been exposed to the disease to travel by alternate, surreptitious means. Now airport security and the government can coordinate to figure out where Ebola-infected people have been and are going. And it would be a logistical nightmare to try to enforce, one which Republicans have not committed to paying for.
When Democrats win, public health wins. Please chip in $3 to strike a blow for science.
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Republicans win on fear. None of their Obamacare horror stories—the issue they were counting on for this election—have panned out, so they need something to put gin up both fear and Obama hatred in their base, wringing one more midterm election out of them.