Last week, President Joe Biden announced federal mandates that will require millions of workers to either get a COVID-19 vaccination or provide a valid reason why they should be allowed the alternative of weekly testing. The right wing immediately lost its collective mind.
Fox News’ Laura Ingraham called the president’s announcement “one of the most heinous things we have seen in America.” A Newsmax pundit described it as “Biden’s tyrannical dictate on vaccine mandates.” Gov. Tate Reeves, R-Mississippi, compared Biden to the presidents of China or North Korea.
It all makes no sense. The blast furnace of orchestrated outrage is little more than a continuation of cynical ploys being used to take or retain political power. The COVID-19 deaths of more than a thousand Americans every day, almost all unvaccinated, are the price that vaccine opponents seem willingly pay.
Despite its public posturing, Fox News requires its production staffers to wear masks, according to Variety. Fox employees are required to disclose their vaccine status. Newsmax and One America News goose their competitive positions by being more Fox than Fox.
Meanwhile, 75% of Americans, according to recent polling, approve of mandates.
Vaccine mandates are neither unconstitutional nor an undemocratic encroachment on American freedoms. The over-the-top accusations being hurled in everything from press appearances to posts on social media are simply wrong.
For a hundred years, courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have consistently ruled that protecting public health is a justifiable and legal reason for government mandates. Starting with the Revolutionary War, Americans have resisted then finally acceded to such requirements.
In 1904, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that liberty for all cannot exist at the cost of bringing smallpox harm to others. Proof of polio immunity quickly became mandatory for school enrollment after a vaccine was developed in the 1950s.
Recently, Justice Amy Coney Barrett didn’t even bother to consult her colleagues before ruling that Indiana University has every right to require COVID-19 vaccination proof from all students.
The real conundrum is why Republican officials and conservative media have chosen this battle. Many of their supporters are dying of COVID-19 unnecessarily. The economy didn’t have to be rattled by an avoidable variant. Past vaccine efforts completely eliminated smallpox and nearly wiped out polio worldwide.
President Biden can and should impose mandatory vaccinations as quickly and broadly as possible. When it comes to COVID-19, enough is finally enough.
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