Look, I’m not here to argue the merits of vaccination policy. Frankly, I tend to think that all kids should be vaccinated against illnesses that I only know about because my 8-bit characters died from them on Oregon Trail, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the great “vaccine debate” we seem to be having in this country thanks to some people who decided to pack measles in their carry-ons when they visited DisneyLand.
Should everyone be forced to vaccinate? I have no clue. Should Republican Presidential candidates stop talking about it? Absolutely. There is absolutely no good that can come out of this sudden, field-wide urge to prognosticate on benefits and concerns about vaccines, and meanwhile, everyone who has said anything from the GOP camp is playing nicely into the media’s narrative that Republicans are somehow anti-science. Because, while leading Democrats and liberal-leaning media sources are patting themselves on the back for taking the “science-based approach” to mandatory vaccine schedules, most of the people responsible for the re-emergence of Dark Ages thinking in regards to medicine live in quiet, upper-middle-class liberal enclaves, and exist on the fringes of progressive, not conservative bases.
Because here’s the truth: This is largely a liberal fringe issue.
The people not vaccinating their kids against the diseases once declared defeated don’t live in South Carolina or Indiana or a particularly conservative part of Ohio or Florida. That isn’t where people are contracting the whooping cough, like it’s goddamn Little Women.
No, the strongholds are in places like Newport Beach, Santa Monica, and Marin County, California. The affluent, the educated, the enlightened, the ones who believe in purity and science — people in liberal enclaves are the ones rejecting one of the 20th century’s major scientific achievements.
Half of the children that attend some schools in Marin (median income: $90,839), the county’s health officer told the New York Times last week, are unvaccinated. People don’t want toxins in their children’s blood.
“It’s good to explore alternatives rather than go with the panic of everyone around you,” the mother of two unvaccinated children told the Times. “Vaccines don’t feel right for me and my family.”
By speculating on “parental choice” (Christie) and how vaccines trigger “profound mental disorders” (Rand Paul) or “horrible autism” (Donald Trump), potential GOP candidates aren’t making themselves any more appealing to fringe GOPers, but instead, making themselves slightly more appealing to people who will ignore them, and slightly less appealing to normal individuals concerned for their kids’ well being. The questions are coming, quite deliberately, from a media intent on showcasing scientific and medical ignorance, and every one of these men is simply playing into the media’s hand. And while polling may put Republicans at slightly less likely than Democrats to support mandatory vaccine requirements, it seems the biggest concern isn’t efficacy of the vaccines themselves, but suspicion of any government program that mandates anything, cutting into the freedoms associated with parental choice.
They’re also obscuring the fact that liberals can and often do pander to hippies, because, to liberal and Democratic candidates, these audiences account for votes and money. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made overtures to anti-vaccine contingents in 2008, the current President going on record as being supicious of the potential for vaccines to cause harm, and calling a link between the MMR and autism “inconclusive” despite great evidence to the contrary. Heck, this year’s White House budget slashes a whopping $50 million from the Health and Human Services vaccine program for the underpriveledged, exposing those who can’t afford regular medical care, even under the new Obamacare regime, to deadly and disfiguring diseases, while the United States is facing down a quickly-spreading measles outbreak that’s infected more people in just a few short months than in all of the last decade.
When it comes to a question about vaccines, guys, here’s some free advice from a communications professional: just say they’re good and walk away. Although, if you didn’t already know to tactfully avoid needlessly provacative questioning from media, and as such, have been outmaneuvered by the likes of Dr. Ben Carson and Hillary Clinton, perhaps it’s best you bow out of the contest now before things get too hairy.
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