I take delight in pointing out political hypocrisy. Chief among the Democrats’ talking points is that the GOP is against science. You don’t have to go far to find evidence supporting this. But are Democrats any better?
When it comes to refusing to vaccinate children, the biggest offenders are affluent liberals. Enough data supports this that a prominent journalist quipped that you can find clusters of unvaccinated children wherever there’s a Whole Foods. It’s the “Prius driving, composting, organic food-eating people” who buy into the anti-vaccination nonsense.
This is a liberal problem. No, seriously, the data demonstrates that this is definitely a liberal problem. The vaccine rates in wealthy L.A. schools are as low as Sudan. Some parents have stated that declining to vaccinate their children makes “instinctive sense.” Now we have whooping cough spreading through L.A. schools. And don’t forget the measles.
Lest we merely blame this on a small subset of Hollywood limousine liberals, don’t forget that President Obama pandered to this crowd in 2008. Granted, he probably just wanted their money for his campaign, but the point is that he didn’t dare call them out on their dangerous decision not to vaccinate children. If Democrats can criticize Republicans for appealing to the climate denier wing of the party, the Democrats have to own pandering to their anti-vaccine crowd.
But why is this is liberal problem? Several of the sources linked above theorize that an affluent sense of entitlement pervades our wealthy elite and clouds their judgment. The old joke is that reality has a liberal bias, but evidence suggests that liberals are no better at sorting through uncomfortable information than conservatives are.
Although it’s always fun to laugh at condescending liberals who openly brag about being smarter than the rest of us, scientific ignorance is a real problem for people in general. It’s certainly possible that a sense of entitlement clouds liberals’ judgment, but the same could be said of wealthy conservatives. The whole coal and gas energy industry is littered with people who either don’t care about carbon emissions or straight up deny their ability to affect our planet’s ecosystem.
Perhaps this is a failure of human nature. Some theorize that if you’re opposed to vaccines that you’re more likely to believe in other nonsense, such as NASA faking the moon landing. The example of the moon landing is fantastic since there is ample evidence to suggest that America really did land on the moon and the Russians had a vested interest in exposing a faked moon landing and chose not to do so. Yet, people still cling to this conspiracy. Then you’ve got the whole 9/11 crowd believing that President Bush orchestrated a false flag attack by Afghans so that we could invade Iraq to get their oil.
In reality, we all believe in weird things. Its your underlying values that dictate which nonsense you choose to believe. If you’re vehemently anti-corporate and trust that organic foods are safer than GMOs, then you’re more likely to fall into the anti-vaccine trap. If you’re from a heavily forested region with an year round temperate climate, then it’s easier to fall into the climate denialist movement. Notice how we haven’t even touched on the topic of religion yet. That just opens up a whole new box of crazy beliefs.
We still have a very real problem on our hands. How do we handle those in society to fail to vaccinate their children in the name of personal beliefs? Anti-vaccine supporters argue that they have a right to decline vaccinations. The flip side is that your rights end where mine begin. If your child has polio, whooping cough, or the measles, your child poses a threat to my child and the rest of the community. Should our society mandate that all children receive vaccines? A strong scientific argument could be made in favor of doing so. The federal government possesses the resources and constitutional authority to make such a decision.
Whether we want the federal government interfering with our children’s lives to that degree is a matter of debate. As soon as the government starts inspecting our children for vaccines, it’s likely that they’ll start misusing that data. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where the government takes a blood sample from every child and keeps it on file just in case it decides to run to genomic testing later on. As crazy as that sounds, the whole NSA PRISM scandal sounded crazy 3 years ago.
It’s entirely possible that this problem will resolve itself. If whooping cough and measles spread widely enough in isolated communities, then people may abandon the anti-vaccine movement. While it’s easy to dismiss science as being biased or incorrect, it’s much harder to ignore dying children all over your neighborhood. The downside to this solution is that it requires a lot of children to die before people learn their lesson.