The vaccine mandate is exactly the confrontation that America needs, and not just to end COVID-19

The vaccine mandate is exactly the confrontation that America needs, and not just to end COVID-19

The easiest thing for President Joe Biden to do would have been to do nothing. Keep smiling. Keep pretending as if Republicans in the Senate might be reasonable. Keep playing kindly Uncle Joe and ignoring the Republican attempts to sabotage the efforts to end the vaccine. It would have been easy to pretend that everyone was on the same page, all struggling together against that invisible foe. After all, when asked directly, most of the Republicans in leadership can be counted on to give a lukewarm endorsement of the vaccines, though it’s often paired with some form of how they’re “not telling anyone else what to do.”

With the national media still engaged in hammering Biden over the crime of ending a pointless 20-year war and conducting a successful airlift that evacuated over 100,000 people from a war zone—to the tune of providing more Afghanistan coverage in the last week than in all of 2020—there certainly had to be some inclination to sit back. Add to that Republicans jumping straight to demanding a resignation for … the crime of ending a pointless 20-year war and conducting a successful airlift that evacuated over 100,000 people from a war zone … and “let’s just push the infrastructure bill” probably seemed like a very attractive prospect.

Biden could have kept walking out there, expressing his optimism, giving daily updates, and hoping there was something left of his signature legislation by the time they squeezed between Scylla-Sinema and Charybdis-Manchin. He could have stayed head down, avoiding confrontation, and just cruised on toward 2022 with a big shrug and a, “Gee, we tried.” He didn’t do that. Last week, Biden went out there and got right in the face of Republican hypocrisy. He put a punch right to the head of Ron DeSantis and other Republican governors by offering schools a way to bypass threats of fines and withheld funds. He forced every right-wing pundit to get out a pencil and replace every instance of “sleepy” with “tyrannical” by using Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to deliver vaccine mandates. 

Biden could have sat back. Instead, he’s forced a confrontation with Republicans that the nation badly needed. And it could have repercussions that go way beyond ending the pandemic.

There are numerous ways that Biden is doing the nation a huge favor—and putting himself on the line to make it happen.  

But there’s another factor that’s getting left out of 99% of reporting on Biden’s push on the vaccine: People like it. As Kerry Eleveld noted, requiring large employers to vaccinate workers or conduct weekly tests has more than a 20% margin of support versus oppose. So does requiring all federal workers to be vaccinated. Encouraging states to require vaccination for school employees has a 30% margin.

That same kind of support is seen in how this move has been embraced by corporations. Whether it’s the chair of the National Association of Manufacturers or the CEOs of some of America’s largest companies, business leaders recognize that prolonging the pandemic is harming the economy. They stand squarely behind Biden’s push to get their employees vaccinated so they can stay on the job.

By pushing Republicans into a direct fight, right now, on a topic where he enjoys wide popular and business support, Biden is doing everyone a favor.

He’s doing business a favor by cutting down on health care expenses and boosting productivity. He’s doing Americans a favor by simply keeping people healthier. Most of all, Biden may be doing Republicans a favor. Not a favor in terms of giving them a political advantage—an advantage of simply keeping them breathing. At a time when, as The New York Times reports, ICUs in red states are under incredible strain, no one needs another story about people dying or silly rumors or even sillier vaccine resistance. Getting people vaccinated can, and will, save their lives. Biden is going to save them, even if they hate him for it.

However, Biden is also doing Republicans a favor politically. That’s because Sen. Mitch McConnell and other supposedly mainstream Republicans have been too gutless to make a clean break with the Trump-centered madness in their party. Their own passivity is sending them into a situation where, every single day, they’re forced to accept more conspiracy theories, more irrationality, more utter hate for fellow Americans. Surveys already show that the majority of Republicans now think it’s not just important that someone continue to follow Donald Trump, but believe that Trump won the last election.

As with the pandemic, the affliction that has possessed the Republican Party can’t be ended by pretending it will just “magically go away” when the weather changes. If there are genuinely rational Republicans remaining, Republicans who want to see their party survive when this fight is lost—and they’re definitely going to lose—they need to take the hand that Biden is reaching out while they still can.

Republicans have followed Trump far out on a rickety, rotten branch. Now it’s time to cut it off, while we can still save the tree.

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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