Opposing mask and vaccine mandates is the default position in the Republican party. This is exemplified by the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. Rather than simply not imposing statewide mask or vaccine mandates, he has actively used the coercive power of the state to prevent local governments and school boards from having their own mandates. To be fair, he has encouraged people to get vaccinated as he has. But he has started courting the anti-vax part of his base.
While DeSantis has spoked of “medical authoritarianism” and he and other Republicans speak about freedom, this seems to be a bad faith “argument.” After all, DeSantis and his fellows have been busing using the coercive power of the state to ban critical race theory from public schools and to impose various “trans bans.” The impositions are aimed at imaginary harms and impose on meaningful freedoms—such as freedom of expression. While I do agree that people do have the basic right of bodily autonomy, this right (like all rights) is limited by the principle of harm. The “freedom” to refuse a safe and effective vaccination during a pandemic is not a legitimate freedom and can be compared to the “freedom” to decline to have operating brakes on your car: you become a danger to yourself and others. DeSantis and the other Republicans do seem to recognize the harm of the pandemic, as noted above. . .
News source: A Philosopher’s Blog