Immunity Good, Immunization Bad?

Immunity Good, Immunization Bad?

In the George Orwell classic political satire Animal Farm, compliant sheep were taught to chant the phrase, “Four legs good, two legs baaaad.” Later, when the allegorical leaders became selfish and human-like, the same sheep were coerced into switching to “four legs good, two legs better.”

The book is a biting commentary on the dangerous power of a totalitarian state (i.e., Joseph Stalin’s socialist Russia, in Animal Farm) to get subjects to do the will of a tyrant.

This literary warning came to mind again recently when I was thinking about some absurdities of modern U.S. politics.

Immunity for Presidents: Good or Baaaad?

The Supreme Court decision expected this week in U.S. v. Trump is what started my thinking. To generalize, Donald Trump fans are chanting “presidential immunity good.” They are outraged that he might be prosecuted for his actions on January 6, 2021. Meanwhile, Trump’s political enemies are convinced that he led an insurrection and must go to jail for it.

Both sets of partisans, following their leaders, continually repeat their simplistic maxims. “If given absolute immunity, a president could order the Navy Seals to assassinate his domestic opponents without accountability,” the anti-Trumpers drone. “Without immunity, a president could be prosecuted for sending soldiers into harm’s way – and everything else he does,” the Trumpians retort.

What bothers me is the patent politicization of a difficult, complex legal question like presidential immunity. Really, do we have to be unquestionably for or against the concept based solely on whether our ox or the other side’s ox is being gored? Must we be so sure the justices are conflicted, biased, or “activists” due to their view of this constitutional issue?  Can we truly presume to know which decision would be legally correct because we know who may benefit in this one current case?

Whether you will be pleased or upset by the Supreme Court’s decision in the next few days, I say two things. The first is to calm down, as this too shall pass. If your side loses the case, just maybe the court majority will have gotten it right. Perhaps it won’t be the end of the world, or even the death of America. On the other hand, if your personal desires are rewarded, I’m sorry to throw cold water on you, but the day may come when you regret the outcome. Worms turn, pendulums swing, and dogs have their days.

My second message relates to the lens through which we view the world. Even though this blog is named Principle Based Politics, I will be the first to tell you that politics is not everything. Nor is it the only thing. Unlike in football (according to the famous coaching adage), even winning in politics is neither everything nor the only thing.

Let’s all stop being in favor of or opposed to judicial outcomes based on which way they cut in near-term politics. That includes presidential immunity.

Immunization Against Disease: Same Question

Opinions about immunity – while equally strongly held – reverse when it comes to immunization programs. Think covid shots, circa 2021.

During my congressional campaign this winter, I attended a large meeting at which a speaker began with, “I am proud to say I never once took the covid vaccine.” The Trump-loving crowd erupted in applause at the speaker’s proclaimed courage in standing up to the Democratic powers that be. Although their political hero himself had switched gears often between expediting vaccines through “Operation Warp Speed,” to tweeting out “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” to enabling Dr. Anthony Fauci, to undermining mask use and lock-downs, to promoting alternative immunizations and treatments like hydroxychloroquine, it is fair to say that strident pro-Trump and anti-vax opinions often do go hand-in-hand today.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Democrats maintain that Trump “botched America’s covid response” and led his flock into unnecessary misery/death through his ultimate perceived opposition to the vaccines.

I won’t belabor the point. I think it is obvious that politicization of medical issues such as mass immunization is at least equally as unhelpful as is politicization of judicial issues like presidential immunity.

In Orwellian terms, be cautious about being a flock of sheep bleating in unison to any cadence dictated by your political leaders.

Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics. 

Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.

Principle Based Politics does not endorse or support any particular political candidate or party.

  • James Loerts
    Posted at 15:54h, 25 June

    Whatever the outcome of the presidential immunity case this week there will be massive bleating by whoever does not get all they want.

  • Jeff Newell
    Posted at 18:32h, 25 June

    An excellent blog Quentin!
    I try to remind myself to look at politics from 40,000 ft. to try to be more objective.
    Both sides have their dedicated followers that would jump into pool of sharks if their political side told them to do so. Being so dedicated to one side is not good, in my opinion. It seems many have joined a political “cult” by so strongly backing one party or the other……..sometimes the Church has been replaced by these strong political stances.
    Some truly believe that if their political party had total control, then everything would be alright and all their concerns would be alleviated.
    I believe we should all try to do the best we can to help at the local level rather than wait for the federal government to solve all our problems. We’re going to be very disappointed waiting for the federal government to solve all our issues.