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Vaccine Mandates: Whose Business?

The Arkansas governor will put "the employer's right to provide a healthy workplace" before an employee's right to choose.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson wants you to know he’s not with Gregg Abbott. Or Ron DeSantis. In fact, he’s never even heard of them. They’re in his party? Tut tut.

If you are a normal person who doesn’t spend his whole life on Twitter, allow me to catch you up: In the wake of Texas’s Greg Abbott becoming the second GOP governor to issue a statewide ban on vaccine mandates, following Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Hutchinson jumped to join the likes of Kristi Noem in insisting it is not the job of government to regulate businesses. While he says he opposes mandating the Covid-19 vaccine at the federal level, Hutchinson spoke in favor of companies adding the shot as a new condition of employment for their employees, because vaccine mandates are OK as long as they’re from the private sector.

In case you are lost, the argument goes like this: The government can’t prevent employers from mandating the vaccine because they can’t prevent them from doing anything. That would hinder freedom—the freedom of businesses, that is. Pay no attention to the American people behind the curtain.

Libertarian in his leanings, Hutchinson has history of vetoing bans, including the Arkansas legislature’s bill to stop gender-conforming treatments for gender-confused youth in April of this year, which he also called “government overreach.”

He told NBC Sunday:

I am a defender of the employer’s right to provide a healthy workplace. You would have just as many workers say, ‘I don’t want to work there because it’s not a healthy workplace, because not everybody’s going to be vaccinated.’ The employers are in a tough position. They would have the prerogative to make those decisions and I support that.

This employer’s right Hutchinson speaks of, to provide a healthy workplace, is a new one to me, but I am only an average citizen. The other one, an employer’s sovereignty over his own business, is an important one to protect—how many governors shut down businesses last year, as an aside?—but hardly at the expense of more basic human rights.

He is right that employers are in a tough position, however. That is, those employers who manage more than 100 employees, and who take a press release for the supreme law of the land. For these business owners who fail to mandate the vaccine for their employees, exile from a certain class of people and their parties almost certainly awaits—and so too for Hutchinson. A real pity. They have told their employees to face the music out of self-preservation, as it turns out.

What of the role of government, to protect the rights of the people from those who would infringe on them? Well you see, the rules of free association trump them, even when the terms of the association change after Americans have already signed the papers.

Don’t worry, if Republicans stay out of business, Democrats will too. Vive la liberte!

about the author

Carmel Richardson is the 2021-2022 editorial fellow at The American Conservative. She received her B.A. from Hillsdale College in political philosophy with a minor in journalism. She firmly believes that the backroads are better than the interstate, and though she currently resides in Northern Virginia, her home state will always be Tennessee.

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