Cringe-worthy. You could see the inner workings of their minds as they figured out how to straddle the different sides of the vaccine “debate” during the (actual) CNN debate. Some GOP Presidential candidates were trying to make everyone happy, like Ben Carson, who wants people to vaccinate and think some nebulous idea about spreading vaccines out is reasonable. I mean, if it makes parents feel better, who cares if they are leaving their children at risk for diseases longer than is safe?
Others have a core base that supports the idea of parents have freedom to do whatever they want to their children. And the last guy is a narcissist who isn’t used to his ideas being challenged and wouldn’t know a fact if it bit him in the rear.
These men who would rule the most powerful nation in the world and could easily unleash nuclear weapons also want to unleash measles on us. It’s easy to become disheartened if you stop at the debate.
But the debate isn’t the only thing that happened this week. Come Thursday morning, a torrent of backlash was unleashed on these candidates. They may not have expected it because anti-vaccine activists are loud and persistent and focused on only that one issue. They may have assumed that the debate was equally matched.
They were wrong. So many articles were written debunking these candidates and their misinformation that every word in this sentence has its own fabulous, lovely, pertinent, excellent hyperlink. The backlash was so great, I even had to add adjectives to my sentence. And I am guessing the backlash isn’t done.
The backlash is great enough that the campaigns are likely strategizing right now about how best to untangle themselves from their debate statements. If they want my opinion on how to do so, here’s my suggested language: “During the debate, I made statements about vaccines that were wrong. My wrongness was great and horrible, and I regret threatening public health with my wrongness. Children’s lives are too important to allow my wrongness to stand. Therefore, I retract my wrongness, and will gladly state now that vaccines do not cause autism and that parents should stick with the CDC schedule.” Not hard. Statements like this are made in marriages across the world.
Another presidential candidate has sniffed out this backlash. Bernie Sanders met with Rachel Maddow and stated:
I think the evidence is overwhelming that vaccines do not cause autism. It really is a little bit weird for Trump, who has no medical background, to be raising this issue. And obviously it is a concern because when somebody like that says it, thousands of people are going to hesitate to get their kids their shots, and bad things may happen.
I predict good news to come. Being pro-vaccine is now mainstream, and anti-vaccine statements are not allowed to stand. I predict a flurry of pro-vaccine statements by candidates and public figures in the weeks to come.
But if you are listening carefully, pro-vaccine statements are embedded in our culture. References to the value and importance of vaccines are now part of casual allusion, such as the analogy made in the preview of Benicio Del Toro’s new film, shared on Jimmy Fallon’s show this week.