I enjoy reading the works of our local columnists in the Missourian. If I agree, I smile and move on. If I disagree, I usually smile and move on. But I respectfully disagree with Steve Spellman’s column from Sept. 15. I believe the actions being taken by President Biden are neither authoritarian nor unconstitutional.
In the simplest terms, authoritarianism is a broad category encompassing many types of government where the power is centered in a single person or a small group of people to make decisions for the entire society. It is usually associated with communism, totalitarianism, fascism and theocracies.
If any of you are unfamiliar with the opening words of our Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Today the common enemy, which threatens our domestic tranquility and general welfare, is the COVID-19 delta variant. Over 90% of those hospitalized in the intensive care units are those who have not taken the Pfizer, Moderna or J&J vaccines.
Many hospitals in the nation are actively seeking beds for the men, women and children who find themselves in need of intensive medical care, including sending patients to other states for treatment.
There is nothing in the Constitution or associated laws that indicates that the president does not have the power to mandate vaccination rules for the sake of the health and welfare of our citizens. On the contrary, the president “may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices,” to take such actions.
In our current situation, opinions from the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, OSHA, and other entities dealing with the health and welfare of the American citizens and the mandate, have been sought.
In normal times, states have the authority to mandate vaccinations for the general public, especially for school-age children. But the delta variant is different. We must treat the delta variant as the enemy of all of the people and the president has full authority to take actions when the individual states, like Missouri, refuse to do so.
Mandating vaccinations is nothing new for our government. In May 2014, the Congressional Research Service wrote a report titled “Mandatory Vaccinations: Precedent and Current Laws.”
In their summary, the authors wrote, “Current federal regulations do not include any mandatory vaccination programs; rather, when compulsory measures are needed, measures such as quarantine and isolation are generally utilized to halt the spread of communicable diseases.” The COVID-19 delta variant is a very communicable disease.
Though federal law does not mandate vaccinations, there is nothing in the law preventing the mandate if the public health and welfare is threatened.
Is Biden overreaching his powers? On the contrary, the president’s call for all employees of private companies of 100 persons or more is for the common good of the nation.
The fight against the misinformation concerning the COVID-19 variants and the safety of the vaccines needs to be taken up by the federal and state governments, as well as commercial and nonprofit organizations.
No vaccine is 100% effective. At best, the flu vaccine is usually considered 40% to 60% effective. But the three COVID-19 vaccines are each over 80% effective and have been given to hundreds of millions of Americans and citizens around the world. Those who have had “breakthrough” infections have had much milder cases of COVID-19 than those who have not taken the vaccine at all.
Should the president mandate vaccines to lessen the spread of this deadly virus? I believe he should and he must. This is not a political action, but for the health and protection of the American citizen and to insure our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
David Rosman is an award-winning writer, editor and professional speaker. He is also the Missouri State Director for American Atheists. You can read more of his commentaries at InkandVoice.com.