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What it takes for Donald Trump to get booed by his own followers

For many of Donald Trump's followers, there's a tension between their love for him and their opposition to Covid-19 vaccines.

Donald Trump is accustomed to hearing plenty of booing at his public events, because the former president elicits the jeers by calling out political targets. The Republican condemns Democrats, journalists, and immigrants, among others, and his followers respond on cue.

Trump is not, however, accustomed to hearing his supporters boo him.

It happened four months ago at an event in Alabama, when he encouraged attendees to get Covid-19 vaccines. The booing was audible and immediate.

This past weekend, it happened again. The Associated Press reported:

Former President Donald Trump revealed he received a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, drawing boos from a crowd in Dallas. Trump made the disclosure Sunday night during the final stop of "The History Tour," a live interview show he has been doing with former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly.

O'Reilly told attendees that both he and Trump received vaccinations —drawing some jeers — before asking the former president whether he also received a booster shot. "Yes," Trump responded. "I got it, too," O'Reilly added.

Trump enjoys an almost religious reverence among his diehard supporters, but attendees nevertheless booed after he and O'Reilly referenced safe, free, and effective vaccines during a pandemic.

This stood out as notable for a few reasons.

First, imagine if Trump had publicly announced his vaccinations when they happened, instead of keeping his sensible precautions private. Imagine if he'd released a photograph, for example, of him getting boosted for his followers to see. If even a small fraction of his die-hard backers were inspired to do the right thing because they'd seen their hero get the shot, it likely would've helped the broader public response to the public health crisis.

But the former president didn't do so.

Second, there's a disconnect between the Republican's public rhetoric and his private actions. For example, in August, Trump appeared on Fox Business and questioned booster shots, suggesting they were part of a possible "moneymaking operation for Pfizer." Soon after, the former president told The Wall Street Journal that he "probably won't" get a booster.

He apparently did the right thing anyway, but chose not to tell anyone.

Finally, at the same Dallas event, Trump said he wanted credit for the vaccines too many of his followers oppose, insisting that he and his administration "saved tens of millions of lives worldwide." The Republican went on to tell the crowd to celebrate the vaccines, adding that condemning them is "playing right into their hands."

In context, "their" seemed to refer to the reality-based community.

It's hard not to wonder how much better off we'd be in the United States if Trump had spent the year pushing this message to his base.