Roy Exum: Liberty Above Mandates

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
It is no secret I’ve been on the COVID vaccine bandwagon since the very get-go. Due to my compromised immune system and my age (72) I am one of those at-risk people and I got my first shot the first minute I could; around Valentine’s Day. Since then, I’ve used my opinion pulpit to push the vaccine as hard as possible because I am totally convinced it saves lives. Therefore, this may come as a surprise but I am just as adamantly opposed to government mandates that would force the vaccine on the populace as I am in my plea that any American should get immunized as quickly as humanly possible.

Our United States of America was founded on liberty where each man, woman and child is free to do what they believe is best for them in almost any situation.
On Sunday our infectious guru, Anthony Fauci, said that in the heat of this delta variant of the disease he was in favor of a forced mandate. Other high-ups in government contend it is “very much the government’s business” to know who has gotten the vaccine and who has not. This smacks of far worse than “big brother,” it blatantly infringes on our human rights per the Constitution. Any time government eliminates a citizen’s right of choice, it erodes everything this nation stands for and the price we still pay for such a blessing.

In the early 1950s, when Jonas Salk was so certain his polo vaccine would rid the world of that gruesome epidemic, he was furious then-President Dwight Eisenhower would not make his vaccine mandatory. “Ike” refused, citing the Constitution, and, while proudly taking Dr. Salk’s drug-laced sugar cubes with my elementary school classmates, I did not understand at the time it would have been a great abomination had our Constitution become compromised, no matter how just the cause.

Many Americans - about half for that matter - have made a conscious choice in declining the readily-accessible vaccine in the past two months. I respect their decision. While I most likely disagree with their beliefs, I am confident many would laugh about the poor choices I have made in my life so far be it for me to second-guess anyone. Who has the ability to judge another’s heart?

Unfortunately, today’s society dictates we hurl names at the “anti-vaxxers,” deride and castigate them instead of presenting, instead, well-grounded and common-sense reasoning that we thirst for a 70 or 80 percent rate of vaccinations in hopes of achieving a “herd immunity,” where there are so many vaccinated among us the delta variant cannot “flash storm” every new community or state with its treacherous spread because there is a man-made shield that prevents its dispersal.

Our medical doctors believe there are other variants yet to come, depending on each new strain's ability to locate possible carriers, or those whose immunities will allow the virus to establish. I can understand the medical mindset best displayed by polio pioneer Salk; we were so close to casting COVID aside that we let our defense mechanisms lag as spring happily turned to summer and then – BAM! – in just the last four weeks we’ve had the biggest eyeopener in history since the Passover in ancient Egypt that finally sent the tribe of Israel on its way.

Because of some wrong choices that rank in a hall-of-fame magnitude, I am somewhat of an expert in my ability to change my mind, to acknowledge the error of my ways, ask forgiveness when it takes it and, at other times, become a connoisseur in the preparation of “eating crow.” There are no life penalties for changing one’s mind, yet often it becomes a virtue; to continue to question one’s self has produced some of the greatest decisions of our time.

Andrew Cuomo, the beleaguered governor of New York, has pressed private businesses to mandate the vaccine to thousands of New Yorkers which, in reality, is not a violation of the Constitution. In this instance an individual, if pressured, has the choice of working for X company or not. He is free to make a decision to obey the new company edict or to resign and work elsewhere. His freedom and his liberties are not jeopardized. Yes, I’ll agree it is a crummy way to treat longtime and loyal employees and is yet another reason Cuomo should be run out on a rail after far-worst decisions but – face it – politics makes for strange bedfellows. 

We know COVID is a ruthless killer and some of us are assured the vaccines that have been developed – with more to come -- are our front-line defense. There has never been a more brutal field test than the delta variant has just brought to the table and Lord knows the fact our hospitals are staggering under the weight of the non-vaccine victims who now struggle mightily with the disease absolutely breaks your heart.

But if today’s government were to hand down an official order that mandates the public should succumb to the wishes of the union rather than enjoy the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, I can easily hear forefather Patrick Henry going into a coronavirus treatment ward with the words, “Give me liberty or …”

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