How is it that mandate became a dirty word in America?
Sure, we’re the land of the free, but we’re only free because we have mandates, otherwise known as laws. Without laws, we don’t have a society or a government, nor do we have rights, since rights are, in their very foundation, based on mandates found in our Constitution.
We live our lives everyday by mandates. Except for the criminals among us, we abide by a myriad of laws that affect nearly every aspect of our lives. We also live with an endless number of other mandates, large and small, that aren’t necessarily based on laws.
“No shirt, no shoes, no service” is a mandate that is routinely imposed by the owners of retail or dining establishments. Others restrict the carrying of firearms. For a century, public schools have required immunizations for enrolling students for a long list of diseases.
None of us like arbitrary mandates, but when a mandate has a clear purpose, such as protecting the public health or restoring the economy, it is, by definition, NOT arbitrary. In a sensible society, a mandate under such circumstances wouldn’t even be necessary, because the concept of personal responsibility would make the appropriate action clear to all. Unfortunately, that isn’t the America we inhabit today.
Here’s what we know for sure. Vaccines against the COVID-19 virus are incredibly effective and remarkably safe. Billions of shots have been administered over the past nine months around the world, with infinitesimal adverse reaction, other than the body’s desired immune response, which varies by individual.
We also know that COVID vaccines are free to all Americans and available just about everywhere. There is no place in the world where it is cheaper or easier to get a COVID vaccine than in the U.S. And yet we have among the lowest vaccination rates among the major industrialized countries, at just over 63 percent of the population with full immunization, according to Reuters. That’s barely higher than the Dominican Republic.
Recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that vaccinated individuals are five times less likely to be infected by the COVID-19 virus and its variants than the unvaccinated, and are 27 times less likely to end up in a hospital due to infection. It’s true that the current vaccines aren’t 100-percent effective, but that’s true of every vaccine for everything. The protective nature of the current vaccines is undeniable, as is the existence of the virus. The fact that your buddy takes needless risks and hasn’t contracted COVID yet is evidence of his good fortune, not his good sense.
Because a large percentage of Americans these days lack a sense of duty, or personal responsibility, we are now in the midst of a fourth wave of the COVID pandemic, a wave that is currently killing an average of 1,500 Americans every day. The latest surge, which negatively affects both the public health and the economy, was completely unnecessary. The highly contagious Delta variant has been able to catch fire in the United States specifically because so many Americans remain unvaccinated. Hospital wards are filled with COVID patients, virtually all of them unvaccinated.
A sensible society wouldn’t need mandates against drinking and driving, because responsible individuals would understand that such behavior puts both themselves and others at risk. Yet, exactly the same principles apply to mandates for COVID vaccination. Arguing against vaccine or mask mandates at this pointis no different from arguing for repeal of DWI laws. If being American means you should be able to do “whatever feels good,” regardless of the consequences to others, then we’ve become a nation of children when what we really need are responsible adults.
Let’s be clear. Those charged with protecting the public health have tried every manner of incentive to get Americans voluntarily vaccinated to protect the public health. They have made it free and easy. They have even offered to pay people to get the shot. And yet we have 25-30 percent of the population that still refuses to do the one thing that can end this pandemic.
For years, American society tried coaxing motorists not to drink and drive. It was mandates that finally got that scourge under control. Mandates, including vaccine mandates, are nothing new. They have been a part of life in America for centuries. Those who argue against mandates to halt the COVID-19 pandemic should grow up, learn their history… and then get the shot. The public health and our economy won’t fully recover until they do.
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