Joe Biden Is Not 'Declaring War' On The Unvaccinated, He's Playing Defense Against Them
Last night, President Joe Biden announced a series of vaccine mandates that quite frankly should have already been implemented months ago. Naturally, this has led to a number of rightwing zealots crying that the president has "declared war on the unvaccinated." It has also, unfortunately, led to Zeke Miller of the Associated Press claiming that the president has "declared war on the unvaccinated."
Oh, the poor dears.
In an article literally titled "Analysis: Biden's war on virus becomes war on unvaccinated," Miller suggests that Biden's pushing these mandates was driven by self-interest and a desire to weaponize the frustration of the vaccinated in some capacity, rather than, you know, preventing more people from dying.
"A distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner," Biden said. "These pandemic politics are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die."
Biden's forceful posture reflected a calculus that far more Americans will support his action than will be drawn to the visceral anger that some on the right directed at his announcement — evidenced, in his view, by the fact that a supermajority of the country has already been vaccinated.
It was also driven by self-interest, as Biden tries to defend his own job performance on the issue most important to voters.
There really isn't anything to defend. It's hardly his fault that people are hoovering horse paste because they think the vaccine is filled with Satanic microchips. The reason we have had a major spike in cases is because restrictions were relaxed as a result of the vaccine and those who did not get the vaccine felt just as entitled to enjoy that as those who did get it — which we can plainly see led to a whole lot of them getting COVID and filling up our ICUs and emergency rooms. If the vaccine did not exist, these same restrictions would still apply to all of us for literally the same reasons they are currently being applied to the unvaccinated.
Much of the article itself is more nuanced, but let's be real — most people are just going to read the headline and think, "See, even the AP thinks that Biden is 'declaring war on the unvaccinated.'" Except he's not doing that. If one considers "killing people" a primary feature of war, the only people declaring war on anyone are the unvaccinated themselves. They're spreading a disease that kills people. They're taking up beds in ICUs, which is also killing people. Preventing them from doing that is not an act of war, it's defending the nation.
Fox News's Jesse Watters, too, is crying that Biden is declaring war on the unvaccinated.
The government, however, is not the only entity "declaring war on the unvaccinated," if that's what we're calling vaccine mandates. Fox News itself — which just so happens to employ Jesse Watters — already requires employees to either get vaccines or mask up and has for quite some time now.
Oh, it’s true. https://t.co/zC8IFCkBat https://t.co/vM3Vg17Qi5— Nicole Perlroth (@Nicole Perlroth) 1631249682.0
You will notice that Watters is not complaining about this, probably because he likes feeling relatively safe when he goes to work every day.
Utah Rep. Chris Stewart claimed that Biden had no right to mandate the vaccine, tweeting, "The government's duty is to present the facts, then trust people to make their own decision." It is worth noting that this is not the case for literally any law or issue regarding public health or safety. The government does not give people the facts about murder and then allow them to make their own decisions about whether or not to kill people, or give people the facts about salmonella and then allow companies to make their own decisions about whether or not to recall tainted foods. In fact, I am having a lot of trouble trying to come up with a single instance wherein it is the government's duty to "present the facts, then trust the people to make their own decisions."
President Biden has no right to mandate the vaccine. The government's duty is to present the facts, then trust the… https://t.co/CWEWnWWme9— Rep. Chris Stewart (@Rep. Chris Stewart) 1631231545.0
Stewart also tweeted that "An American's ability to work and earn a living should not be threatened by an arrogant federal government," which is great because that's not what is happening here. People who work at companies with more than 100 employees will either have to provide proof of vaccination or weekly tests showing that they don't have COVID. Given that the vaccine is the entire reason people are able to go back to work, this is quite rational. As for federal workers and contractors being required to get the vaccine? Well, the United States government is their employer and therefore has a right to make that decision.
It is somewhat odd that any Republican would have a problem with that, as they all believe so deeply in at-will employment. If an employer can fire someone because they're having a bad day and feel like taking it out on someone or because they don't like someone's socks, then surely they can dismiss them for making the workplace less safe for other employees.
Of course, there are those in the GOP who would prefer workplaces be less safe across the board for employees and customers alike. Fighting for your right to spread COVID, get food poisoning, get your arm hacked off, or die in an industrial fire in a room with locked doors is Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who yesterday announced that he is filing a bill to gut OSHA.
This is patently absurd, as there is nothing preventing Americans who wish to get food poisoning from getting it on their own, without putting anyone else at risk. They can undercook chicken in their own homes any time they like, no one is stopping them. I assure you I would be the last person to tell Madison Cawthorn that he can't shove raw chicken down his gullet with unwashed hands. That is none of my business at all.
Similarly, no American is being "forced" to get a vaccine, they are just not being allowed to threaten the health and safety of others quite as wantonly as they were doing. They're already causing enough harm to us all simply by taking up all of the ICU beds.
In his "analysis," the AP's Miller notes that these mandates are a departure from the administration's previous policy of being cautious about hurting the feelings of anti-vaxxers. But this is what the administration should have done, from the beginning, and feelings should have never entered into it in the first place. It's not personal. It's not "they're not complying so we don't want them to be happy!"
The only reason the restrictions were lifted was because of the vaccines — thus, the only people those restrictions ever should have been lifted for were those of us who got vaccinated. We really only have three choices here. We can say, "Fuck it, who cares how many people die anyway, or how badly they overload the hospitals, so long as people who don't get vaccinated feel good about themselves," we can all go back to restrictions as they were before the vaccine, or the people who didn't get the damn vaccine can go back to things as they were before the vaccine. There is only one sane option here.
It's one thing for the usual suspects to go off the deep end and claim that this is an attack on people who just believe differently rather than a straightforward health and safety measure, but journalists and pundits not of that ilk have a responsibility to have cooler heads and not frame this as anything but that.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse