The GOP’s halting journey toward becoming the anti-vaccine mandate party

There is nuance in all of this. Some have suggested their quarrel is not with vaccine mandates, per se, but with the federal government mandating them or compelling private businesses to mandate them. Others had said previously this was about the coronavirus vaccines only being authorized for emergency use.

But then the Pfizer vaccine was fully authorized, and we saw almost no shift in the GOP’s anti-mandate stance. We’ve also seen a pretty steady GOP effort to prevent even the mandates forged by those private businesses on their own or by local and state governments. And the prevailing talking point here — that vaccines should be a choice and that even state government shouldn’t mandate them — doesn’t really apply across the board to other vaccines. (It also ignores the fact that mandates aren’t just about government controlling lives; vaccines need widespread adoption to truly stomp out a virus like the coronavirus.)

In July, a spokesman for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) responded to a question about whether the senator also opposed other such vaccine mandates that were already in place in Texas, saying: “Of course not. Sen. Cruz has been clear that he opposes covid vaccine mandates.”

That seems to be the uniting principle here. But if you’re going to oppose a mandate for a fully authorized vaccine, it would make more sense if you opposed them more broadly.