Vaccines As The New Wedge Issue: Are Republicans Coming For Our Stupid People?

Ever since the measles hit Disneyland, there’s been a lot of talk about whether or not vaccines ought to be mandatory.

Those who have gone on record as saying they should not be mandatory have been Republicans like Rand Paul and Chris Christie. President Obama encouraged parents to vaccinate their kids, calling the science behind them “indisputable,” and Hillary Clinton tweeted out “The science is clear. The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids.”

Outlets like MSNBC and The New York Times are declaring the issue of vaccinations to be the new wedge issue–with Conservatives on the side of “they should be optional” and Progressives on the side of “they should be mandatory.”

To be fair, it’s not all Republicans coming down on this side–both Rick Perry and Ted Cruz have come out in support of vaccinations. Christie has backtracked a bit as well, from his earlier statement that parents “need to have some measure of choice,” and is now saying that with a disease like measles, there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”

Still, I find all of this very odd. Primarily because I always thought of anti-vaxxers as our stupid people. They’re sort of like the crazy aunt we keep locked in the attic when company comes over, you know?

I mean, sure–I pick on Republicans, but I have always been the first to admit that we have our wackos too. We don’t put them front and center or actually run them for office like they do with the birthers, creationists and climate science deniers, but we definitely have them.

“My goodness!,” I thought to myself last night (after a few glasses of wine), “It all makes sense now. The Republicans are coming for our dumb people!

Come to think of it–if that’s their strategy, and I’m not saying it is…it’s a damn good one. I mean, they’re not a terrible fit. They reject science, they’re deeply selfish, they love a good conspiracy theory, and they are more than willing to take the word of people who have no idea what they are talking about.

I would also say that the anti-vaxxers are so passionate about believing the dumb things they believe that–regardless of how they feel about other wedge issues like abortion or LGBT rights–they may be inclined to vote Republican if it comes down to making vaccines optional or mandatory and the GOP is on the side of keeping them optional. I mean, look at this dude talking about how he doesn’t care if not vaccinating his kids against measles could end up killing other kids with failing immune systems? That is Dick Cheney levels of cold.

Who is next? I say the smart money is on white people with dreadlocks. I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch, either. Years ago, I went to a terrifying jam band festival for the purposes of registering voters for the Green Party, and a surprising amount of the people there were Bush voters. Plus, Grover Norquist is totally into Burning Man. Mark my words–soon enough–the GOP will be tabling at Phish shows.

There are, of course, also the chemtrail people and the fluoride people. I think they exist on both sides? But honestly, once you get into that conspiracy crap it’s super hard to tell the difference between Fringe Right and Fringe Left. I can’t tell, personally. Like, the people who think Obama is secretly a lizard person also tend to think Bush was secretly a lizard person, so it’s very hard to tell where they actually stand on anything. All the crazy just sort of blends together at that point.

I’m not sure how I feel about this prospect. On the one hand, we need all the votes we can get. On the other, a part of me does not really want to be on the same team as the anti-vaxxers, due to how deeply they repulse me, so I kinda want to say “You want them? Knock yourselves out!” I guess we’ll just see how it goes.