Some people may request inoculation from having to be hoisted into the 2016 presidential cycle so quickly. To those people I say, too late, just enjoy it, the side effects don’t last forever. The recent outbreak of measles, originating from the Disneyland park in California, has now created a political issue with some 2016 contenders weighing in.
Report from Fox News:
The remarks by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul were not a departure from previously stated positions, but drew widespread attention as public health officials try to cope with a major measles outbreak that has infected over 100 people in several states.
Christie, who spoke Monday after making a tour of a biomedical research lab in Cambridge, England, said that he and his wife had vaccinated their children. However, the governor added, “I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”
Later Monday, Paul said in a radio interview that he believed most vaccines should be voluntary.
“I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Paul, an eye doctor, said in a subsequent interview while suggesting vaccines were “a good thing.” ”But I think the parents should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children.”
Both men’s staffs later sent out statements clarifying their remarks. Christie’s spokesman said the governor believed that “with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.” The statement from Paul’s office pointed out that the senator’s children have all been vaccinated and added that Paul “believes that vaccines have saved lives, and should be administered to children.
Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic contender for the party nomination in 2016, couldn’t resist taking a dig at the GOP hopefuls on Twitter.
“The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest.”
Medical experts and political consultants from both sides joined in the criticism.
Let me suggest for everyone involved the first rule of politics. The third rail isn’t topics like social security or abortion, it’s mixing children with divisive issues. The vaccine question is a recipe for statements, clarifications, restatements, misstatements and mistakes all rolled into one emotional topic.
Everything a candidate says on this topic is parsed in many ways. Take Rand Paul for example. I’m sure his deep-down answer from his libertarian self is that vaccines are a state responsibility. It is not mentioned in the constitution, so the states should decide what is mandatory and what parents can do to opt-in or opt-out. However, try selling that as a mainstream position when we’ve been programmed not to question whether parents should have the ultimate authority on this topic.
In short, no one wants to be responsible for telling people not to vaccine when we know that ultimately, vaccines save lives. They also don’t want to support unfettered government mandates which cede power from parents. I don’t envy being forced to take a stand in this arena one way or another.