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John Merrill: Biden’s vaccine edict

It is obvious that someone in the White House needs to remind Joseph R. Biden that he is the President of the United States and not a third-world dictator.

Like many Americans, I was outraged when President Biden mandated that companies with 100 or more employees require vaccination or subject unvaccinated employees to weekly testing. Neither the U.S. Constitution nor the U.S. Code allow the President to unilaterally compel tens of millions of Americans to follow his personal demands because his patience is “wearing thin.” While I believe that vaccines are effective and safe, it is equally important to remember that every American must retain his or her right to make his or her own healthcare choices. If the government can compel millions of private-sector workers to take a vaccine against their wishes, then what can the government mandate next?

Past statements, made by White House officials, prove that they know perfectly well that the President’s mandate is ill-advised and unconstitutional. In December, President-elect Biden stated, “No, I don’t think it should be mandatory; I wouldn’t demand it be mandatory.” On July 23, 2021, press secretary Jen Psaki speaking about vaccine mandates said, “That’s not the role of the federal government.” Since these comments were made nothing has changed, except the Biden administration’s need to shift the public’s attention. The administration does not want the public focusing on its failed COVID policy, the disaster at our southern border, or the botched execution of the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan.

What should concern every American is President Biden’s use of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement his mandate. Allowing federal bureaucrats to trample the individual rights of millions of Americans by administrative edict is a troubling prospect. President Biden’s actions provide for no accountability or credible legislative oversight, and if this precedent is set, then the presidency will become nothing more than a revolving door of term-limited dictators.

Even OSHA’s own standards would not justify President Biden’s emergency rules. In his speech, President Biden acknowledged that the risk of serious illness was extremely low for vaccinated individuals. Meaning anybody in the workplace can protect themselves from “grave danger” by getting vaccinated. In the absence of any grave danger, which is required under OSHA rules for temporary emergency standards, there is no justification for President Biden’s new standards.

Additionally, President Biden’s edict is unscientific and it is bad public policy. The administration creates no exception of individuals who have natural immunity and possess antibodies. Despite the fact that a recent study from Israel found that those who have recovered from COVID-19 have considerably more protection from the Delta variant than those who have received the Pfizer vaccine. Natural immunity is a well-established scientific principle. What scientific information lead the administration not to provide an exception for the millions of unvaccinated who have already contracted the disease?

President Biden’s mandate will only further entrench vaccine skeptics. Someone who has refused the vaccine will not suddenly change their mind because the federal government presents them with a choice between keeping their jobs or getting vaccinated. Vaccine skeptics will assert that President Biden’s mandate is proof positive that the government’s vaccine campaign is more about control than genuine public health concerns, especially skeptics who have previously contracted the disease and possess natural immunity.

In 1964, Ronald Reagan delivered his famous speech, A Time for Choosing. Reagan declared, “You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between left or right. Well, I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down.” Today, our nation again has been presented with a choice. Will we submit to the whims of an out-of-touch tyrant? Or will we reject irrational, emotional, fear-based thinking and develop a rational plan to remain the greatest country in the history of the world? I have already made my choice, and I hope you will join me.

John H. Merrill is currently serving as Alabama’s 53rd secretary of state

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