Seven Republican-led states have banned schools from requiring masks in the classroom. Ted Cruz and fellow Republican senator Kevin Cramer have two new bills banning mask and vaccine mandates. Texas governor Greg Abbott and Florida governor Ron DeSantis have banned mask and vaccine mandates, and DeSantis even tried to prevent cruise lines from requiring passengers to be vaccinated.
When Cruz insists, “No one should force anyone to take the vaccine — including the federal government or an employer,” he is trampling on property rights and freedom of association, principles a small-government conservative like Cruz usually defends fanatically. Suppose, for instance, you want to enjoy a cruise with the peace of mind that everybody onboard has gotten a vaccine, and a cruise line wants to sell you that experience. A traditional conservative or libertarian would describe that as a capitalist act between consenting adults. DeSantis believes the heavy hand of government should step in and make that contract illegal.
Let’s not pretend Republicans would care about rights for anti-vaxxers if their ranks didn’t include disproportionate numbers of Republicans. Only the identity-politics aspect of the anti-vaxx, anti-mask crusade has driven Republicans to turn against their customary reverence for freedom of contract.