I have been more supportive of pandemic mitigation policy than many people I know. I defended mask mandates, and I defended lockdowns in the Spring of 2020. However, the authority to implement pandemic mitigation policy cannot be unlimited, and we do have constitutional limits on the power of the federal government. This is why a federal vaccine mandate cannot be allowed to stand.
First, the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to mandate vaccinations. The Constitution is very clear that powers not explicitly granted to the federal government are reserved to the states. Granted, that has been roundly ignored for over 100 years, but this is a significant expansion of federal power over state sovereignty.
Even if the federal government had the constitutional authority to mandate vaccines nationwide, the way Biden is doing this is a direct attack on the separation of powers and the authority of Congress. Something this massive should be voted on by Congress, not implemented through the bureaucracy by Presidential fiat. If the Republicans recapture Congress in 2022, they need to reclaim their lawmaking authority from the bureaucracy. Democrats should join them, because this also benefits them when a Republican is President.
I do not have a problem with a vaccine mandate if it were to be implemented by a state government, and I do not have a problem with employers mandating the vaccine. But for the federal government to do it is a bridge too far and should be opposed no matter where you stand on pandemic mitigation policy.
The worst part about the speech, though, was Biden targeting the unvaccinated and saying that “anger” at 80 million people who have not been vaccinated is justified. This is dangerous rhetoric. It is bad enough when random people on Twitter scream at the unvaccinated, but for the President of these United States to stir up anger at a minority is seriously disturbing. Worse, this was a calculated line. What exactly is Biden laying the groundwork to do? What is he trying to accomplish?
Is this what a “unifying” President actually looks like?
I have been fully vaccinated for four months now. I support vaccinations and I would encourage anyone who does not have a medical reason to avoid the vaccine to go get the shot – especially if you are in a high risk demographic. The vaccine is a medical miracle and incredibly effective at preventing severe disease and death. But it is much more dangerous to toss aside the rule of law and allow the President to unilaterally expand the power of the federal government far beyond its constitutional limits.