Politics & Other Mistakes: Viral delusion

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There’s no vaccine for stupidity, but it doesn’t matter. If such a serum existed, the idiots who need it most would refuse to take it.

Maine’s anti-vaxxers suffered a resounding defeat at the polls on March 3. Their people’s veto campaign to continue religious and philosophical excuses for not immunizing their kids before sending them to school lost by a margin of nearly 3-to-1.

That kind of thrashing might induce rational people to accept reality. But we’re not dealing with rational people.

In a video posted on Facebook on election night, Cara Sacks, the campaign manager for the group seeking to keep the exemptions, said, “This vote is not a true indication of where the people of Maine stand on this issue.”

A couple of days later, Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, echoed that sentiment in a newsletter. “This is not over,” Conley wrote. “I do not believe Tuesday night’s vote accurately reflects the will of Maine citizens.”

Is there any evidence for that? Nope.

Nearly 270,000 votes were cast to require vaccines, while barely 100,000 preferred taking the chance their kids wouldn’t get seriously ill and infect others.

A few discrete inquiries turned up some indication of why the anti-vaxxers refuse to accept defeat. A source, who asked not to be identified because he hasn’t been inoculated against vicious reprisals by fanatics, told me, “Lots more Democrats voted than Republicans, and they think that skewed the vote. If more Republicans had voted, our side would have won.”

It’s true the original bill restricting exemptions for vaccines to those with medical issues narrowly passed the Legislature with little GOP support. And it’s also true that in the March balloting, only about 91,000 members of the GOP showed up for an uncontested presidential primary, while the Dem field attracted more than twice as many.

But that’s not the whole story. More than 91,000 independents, who couldn’t participate in the party primaries, cast vaccine ballots. The results would seem to indicate they voted pro-vax overwhelmingly.

Would a larger Republican turnout have propelled the anti-vaxxers to victory? It’s doubtful, at best. In Piscataquis County, where Democrats are rarer than mountain lions, voters turned down the religious and philosophical arguments. In fact, the People’s Veto lost in every single county in the state. In the GOP stronghold of Caribou, the pro-vaccine side prevailed by a 2-1 margin. In conservative Amherst, more than 68 percent supported vaccination.

If twice as many Republicans had voted, it’s unlikely the results would have been much different.

But why let facts stand in the way? The anti-vaxxers are considering another referendum, this one timed to coincide with a general election, perhaps in 2022. They cling to the notion that if the GOP candidate for governor that year (Paul LePage? Bruce Poliquin? Some pock-marked weirdo?) is on their side, it’ll sway the Republican electorate to switch sides in massive numbers.

There’s no reason, other than common sense, to think that won’t work.

Vaccine opponents are also supporting a measure in the Legislature to exempt students of online charter schools and private and religious schools that don’t accept public funds. Because everybody knows those kids never go out in public.

Finally, there was a half-page ad in the Morning Sentinel on March 8 from a Concord, Massachusetts-based group called We the People threatening a “WHOPPING 1 DOLLAR LAWSUIT” to force the state to restore religious and philosophical exemptions. It claims the vaccine requirement is “a violation of human rights that is so fundamental in nature, so entrenched in its practice, and so deliberate in its purpose that the violation is no longer recognized as such.”

Whatever that means, it seems unlikely that somebody from the Bay State has legal standing to overturn a law that doesn’t apply to them, and even more unlikely any court would take this blather seriously.

The vaccine debate in Maine is over. It’s time to turn our attention to other matters. Like when is there going to be a coronavirus shot?

Inject your opinion into the debate by emailing [email protected].

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