President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an East Room event at the White House on Thursday in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
By Christine Favocci August 13, 2021 at 3:33pm
President Joe Biden would have no problem doing whatever it takes to force Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine — he just doesn’t want to appear too heavy-handed while doing it.
According to The Associated Press, the White House has considered requiring proof of vaccination for interstate travel, a measure that would restrict the movements of anyone refusing the shot.
The ripple effects would be far-reaching, impacting everyone from college students returning to school to truck drivers transporting necessary goods to patients seeking medical treatment at medical facilities in other states.
Daily commuters — like staffers who work in Washington, D.C., but live just over the border in surrounding states — would have to show their papers at checkpoints just to get to their jobs.
Families on vacation or visiting relatives would need to be vaccinated and credentialed to board a flight in addition to the other indignities air travelers are already forced to suffer.
Gone would be the days when Americans could move freely within their own country without the right medical procedure and document to prove it (too bad the administration isn’t as concerned about illegal immigrants).
But while the Biden administration currently has no plans to make this a reality, it wasn’t abandoned over concerns about its lawfulness or morality, but rather over worries that it would stoke more political division.
The AP noted that Biden has yet to pull the trigger on this and other extreme measures it has considered.
The optics would be too terrible, so the administration instead chose to forgo plans like altering medical reimbursement for the unvaccinated who contract the virus or implementing sweeping mandates for all federal workers — but only to avoid further polarization.
Would you support a vaccine mandate for interstate travel?
However, just because the president hasn’t turned to such crackdowns yet doesn’t mean they’re completely off the table.
As anyone paying attention can easily see, the administration is slowly putting the squeeze on the unvaccinated.
Although Biden asked states to give cash payments to those willing to roll up their sleeves for the shot just last month as a positive inducement, the administration also announced that federal employees will be forced to either take the experimental vaccine or be subjected to mask mandates and regular testing in an attempt to coerce the vaccine-hesitant into total compliance.
And as the media panic over new infections and the prevalence of the delta variant ratchets up — even as death rates have plummeted to an all-time low — the administration is becoming more comfortable with measures that come just short of authoritarianism.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has Biden’s ear as the chief medical adviser to the president, said as much on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday.
Fauci supported mandates from local governments and schools, calling it “very serious business” now with the death toll at “615,000-plus deaths” from the virus, though he denied that a federal mandate was coming.
“I know people must like to have their individual freedom and not be told to do something, but I think we’re in such a serious situation now that under certain circumstances, mandates should be done,” he said.
“I know people like to have their individual freedom and not be told to do something, but I think we’re in such a serious situation now that under certain circumstances, mandates should be done.” — Dr. Anthony Fauci pic.twitter.com/zUyAKuEJj3
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) August 10, 2021
But the administration’s hesitancy on a mandate might be a result of corporations, academic institutions, hospitals, state and local governments and many other employers already doing their bidding.
They’ve effectively jumped on board to marginalize and penalize those who refuse to get the shot while people like former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are finally admitting they have no problem embracing a crackdown, with “The Terminator” telling those hesitant about being forced to submit to the shot, “Screw your freedom.”
That seems to be the implicit message to all of those who, for one reason or another, don’t want to submit to taking the vaccine.
Early in the pandemic, many protested the mask mandates and lockdowns that they felt were an affront to personal freedom, and many likely did so as they saw this potential for tyranny coming just behind those first lost liberties.
There’s nothing official yet that has restricted travel within the U.S. to the unvaccinated, nor is there a federal vaccine mandate on the books, but it doesn’t seem so unlikely when these frightening measures have already at least been considered for American citizens.
If 20th-century history hasn’t already taught us this lesson, this pandemic should show us how swiftly and effectively government will take away rights when given the chance — and how easy it is to “otherize” a class of people like the unvaccinated.