Mandates are anti-freedom. Vaccine mandates for military members are anti-freedom. Mask requirements are anti-freedom. All kinds of public health measures are anti-freedom, according to the Republican Party. Unless, of course, we are talking about people in need of some government assistance. No, not tax-exempt religious assistance. No, not corporate welfare assistance: We’re talking about the millions of citizens and families not making ends meet in our country.
Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage has an idea for vaccine mandates. He wants back into office and announced his plans to run again back in November 2020. LePage, being a right-wing dirtbag, clearly believes his way into office is on the backs of general pandemic frustrations. This means that he has spent the past year sniping at current Gov. Janey Mills and her vaccine requirement for health care workers. LePage has said Mainers need a lighter touch and a smaller government, and to not do anything about COVID. There’s a reason why LePage has literally said he was “Donald Trump before Donald Trump.” Racist diseased minds think alike, and all of that.
Maine, like most of the country, believes in the science of vaccines and has very little tolerance for anti-vaxx BS. COVID-19 is a huge problem that isn’t going to go away, and the ‘do nothing’ approach has failed spectacularly. So LePage is digging deep into his bigoted bag of dirty tricks and he’s pulling out a doozy: Blame the poors! As WGME reports, on Tuesday LePage “floated a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Mainers receiving welfare benefits.” But what about “freedom” and Bald Eagles and Flags?
It is very hard to qualify for government assistance in Maine. To receive them, you must be going through unbelievably hard times. But while you might be thinking of “welfare benefits” as food and housing assistance, LePage has a history of holding a very expansive definition of welfare (he has previously described Social Security and Medicare as “welfare”). There are myriad benefits programs that LePage would like to fold into this vaccine mandate, including unemployment “and other benefits.”
LePage told the Bangor Daily News that this isn’t a punishment: It’s about raising vaccination numbers in the state. “It’s not about getting people to work, it’s about getting rid of COVID,” he said. And yet, LePage has this to say about President Biden’s federal requirement that workers at larger-sized companies be compelled to get vaccinated: “It’s unconscionable that you will be fired, you will lose your job, if you don’t get vaccinated, but [for] people who are taking services, taxpayer dollars, there’s not even a request to get vaccinated.”
So, don’t get vaccinated and keep your job—but if you lose your job, you must get vaccinated? Don’t worry, LePage said he would first ask people to get vaccinated before mandating they get vaccinated because he’s “clearly against mandates in all respects.” But he isn’t. So, saying “in all respects” is a lie or a profound misunderstanding of how words and sentences create language and communication and meaning. When you realize that LePage has spitefully done things like refuse to implement voter-passed Medicaid expansion in his state when he was in power, it’s hard to believe he would be any different if he were to be put back in office. How would a person like LePage square this circle? He would likely wrap it up in his virulent racism and a general disdain for working-class Americans.
People like Paul LePage and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz like to yell about how bent out of shape they are about military mandates for COVID-19 vaccines—not the previous 17 vaccines administered by the Department of Defense. And yet, LePage would be interested in floating the idea of a COVID-19 vaccine “mandate” for all of those military families that make up a chunk of SNAP food assistance programs in the U.S.? To be more of a perfect hypocrite would take such a high degree of quantum mechanics and physics knowledge, you would likely need to spend the next 1,000 years in school.
Since I can’t, here’s a one-minute artist’s rendering of how perfect LePage’s hypocrisy is.