Ted Cruz says a vaccine mandate is 'authoritarianism,' but he supports them in Texas

GOP Senator Ted Cruz gestures as he speaks to media representatives on the fifth day of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Feb. 13, 2021.
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President Biden said federal employees would need to be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19.
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, argues that this is a display of "authoritarianism".
But the U.S. Senator admits he doesn't believe that other vaccines are a matter of individual choice.
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When he ran for president in 2015, Senator Ted Cruz promised to lay off around 150,000 federal employees, completely eliminating the Department of Education and the IRS. But now he's standing up for unelected bureaucrats in Washington, at least when it comes to their right to oppose a life-saving vaccine in a pandemic.
"President Biden's new vaccination mandate for federal employees is a brazen example of the left politicizing science in the service of its authoritarian instincts," Cruz said in a press release on Thursday.
The Texas Republican vaccinated himself and recommended that others follow suit. Still, he said, "The American people must retain their individual freedoms and the right to make their own medical decisions."
Biden's directive introduces a loophole; If a federal employee refuses to get vaccinated, he or she can get tested weekly, continue to wear masks, and distance himself socially.
READ ALSO: Anti-Vaxxers Are Conducting A Wave Of Litigation To Combat Mandatory Covid Jabs In The Workplace
If COVID-19 wasn't a contagious disease - more contagious than Ebola, far more deadly than the flu, and with potentially long-term health effects - the senator might be right. Freedom, for better or for worse, includes freedom to make a bad decision.
But we are dealing with a virus, not a personal vice. The vaccines available are incredibly effective, 25 times less likely to end up in hospital or die, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But they're not perfect - and the chance of a "breakthrough" is much higher if you're regularly exposed to an unvaccinated population that is a breeding ground for new varieties.
In a free society you can drink yourself to death, at least in your own home, but you can't drive on the autobahn. Federal and state laws are in place that prohibit alcohol consumption and driving.
The need for the vaccine of the country's 2.1 million federal employees seems like a last resort, as vaccination rates and the more contagious Delta variant lead to a spike. While American corporations may follow the example of the government, most Americans are simply encouraged to get a vaccination. The state's iron fist holds a $ 100 voucher for those who get vaccinated.
In almost any other context, the Texas Senator would likely defend an employer's right to set terms of employment - in fact, he has argued that there is a right to refuse to do so on the basis of sexual orientation. Every day, people accept restrictions on their freedoms, from what they dress to what they say, in exchange for money. This is a system that has overwhelming Republican support.
Vaccine mandates are commonplace in Texas too. There, the government mandates that every child attending a public school receives seven vaccines, covering everything from polio to hepatitis to measles, mumps and rubella. Parents can get exceptions in certain circumstances, but "in an emergency or an epidemic" Texas relies on blunt violence. If you want your child to go to school they will need to be vaccinated or be banned from entering the building - a realization that if you have a contagious disease, an individual choice can affect the freedom of others.
"Of course not," said a Cruz spokesman, Dave Vasquez, when asked if the Senator opposes requests for other vaccines. "Sen. Cruz has made it clear that he is against COVID vaccine mandates."
And that's the crux of the matter: in the midst of a pandemic, Cruz and others have decided that now is the time to turn public health into yet another battle in the culture war and rail against liberal "authoritarianism" over a specific lifesaving vaccination . That looks more like politics than principles.
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