Opinion | The hypocritical nature of Conservatism

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ recent political stunt shows the hypocrisy of Trumpian conservatism.


Jeff Sigmund

A customer receives her first dose of the vaccine on Saturday, April 12, 2021. Hartig Pharmacies were administering the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic held at the Al-Eman Mosque.

Shahab Khan, Opinions Columnist

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is more of a charlatan than a governor. Instead of working to increase Iowa’s middling vaccination rate, she is suing the Biden Administration for implementing vaccine mandates in an effort to protect “individual freedom.”

At the same time, she has encroached on the powers of local governments and institutions, attempting to strip them of their constitutional power to implement vaccine mandates. These latest political stunts are a microcosm of the hypocrisy that radiates from her brand of conservatism.

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate debate should not even be happening. Centuries of scientific and historical evidence show that the best way to fight the spread of disease is to vaccinate a large majority, if not all, of a population. Of course, there have always been people skeptical of taking any type of vaccine. This is where vaccine mandates have come in.

So far in the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine mandates around the globe have proven to be very successful in boosting vaccination rates.

France, a country that rivals the U.S. in vaccine hesitancy, has successfully inoculated almost 69 percent of its population after implementing a vaccine mandate. As a result, cases and death rates have continued to decline, signaling a potential end to the pandemic.

In contrast, Reynolds is not guided by evidence-based policymaking. Instead, she applies a dangerously incomplete version of individual freedom that eschews the state government’s responsibility to protect the health and safety of Iowans.

Reynolds’ version of freedom is derived from and shares similarities with the classical liberalism espoused by the post-Reagan Republican party.

This conservatism blends statism and classical liberalism into a hodge-podge political ideology that oozes contradiction and is designed to protect the willfully unvaccinated at the expense of everyone else.

Unlike the modern liberals of the 20th and 21st centuries, classical liberals believe that the government has a limited role in managing the socioeconomic problems facing a society.

Classical liberalism as a philosophy was introduced to counteract the increasingly authoritarian nature of European monarchies in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the U.S., this has translated into a system of federalism in which local, state, and the national governments have certain unique sets of power.

To decide the scope and compatibility of these powers with the constitution, the Supreme Court  rules on the use of those powers. For the question of vaccine mandates, the Court wrote in Zucht v. King that local institutions had the authority to implement vaccine mandates.

The role of the government is to guarantee the protection of civil liberties and allow the individual to live free of impediments and make their own decisions.

Reynolds has disregarded established precedent and has used her power as governor to threaten to cut funding to any institution that implements a vaccine mandate.

She has taken the doctrine of classical liberalism to the extreme with her anti-mandate stance. Per the large anti-vaccine movement in Iowa, it is clear that some individuals really do not know what is best for them.

Therefore, these people are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, spreading the deadly disease, and prolonging the pandemic.

This not only betrays a key tenet of classical liberalism, and therefore the American ethos, but it also creates an environment in which the unvaccinated live by a different set of rules than the rest of us, giving them the freedom to exacerbate a pandemic which has robbed over 7,000 Iowans of the freedom of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

In other words, if Reynolds truly cares about preserving freedom, she will enact vaccine mandates.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.