Snyder: Republican Party needs change in strategy


Megan Kalb/Iowa State Daily

Columnist Snyder believes that the Republican Party can no longer survive as the safe haven of science deniers and unrelenting hypocrisy.

Stephen Snyder

The measles and vaccination debate has finally made its inevitable leap into the political spectrum as President Barack Obama and leading Republicans for the 2016 elections have made comments regarding the idea of making vaccinations for preventable diseases mandatory in the United States. Unfortunately, though not shockingly, this too seems to be a strictly partisan issue.

In an interview with NBC News, Obama made it clear that he believes vaccines are a safe investment in a child’s health and future.

“I just want people to know the facts and science and the information,” Obama said. “And the fact is that a major success of our civilization is our ability to prevent disease that in the past have devastated folks. And measles is preventable.”

While Obama did not make any impromptu propositions about advocating for a law requiring vaccinations, his stance is clear. Vaccinations are important medical advancements and if ignored, as shown by the Disneyland outbreak, can have major consequences.

Potential Republican candidates Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul made their thoughts on the subject known and simultaneously let the American public know just how far behind the times that they, as well as their party, still are.

Christie said that there should be “some measure of choice” when parents are considering whether or not to vaccinate their children, while Paul took the debate one step further when he mentioned there are “many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” Paul’s statements are especially troubling because he is a doctor by trade and some will take his comments as license to endanger others by refusing vaccination. Christie, however, is just proving to be a hypocrite.

When the issue was Ebola, Christie quarantined a healthy woman, saying that his job was to keep the people of his state safe and he proved he would take any measure to ensure that safety. However, that quarantine was speculative because there was no evidence that the quarantined nurse had Ebola. Now that measles is spreading across the nation and Christie is gearing up his presidential bid, his responsibility has shifted to ensuring that his citizens have the autonomous ability to be stupid and put other people — in his state, potentially — in danger.

Taking those comments into consideration, it is sickeningly likely that the 2016 Republican primary will be a contest to see who can deny the most scientific fact in the most convincing fashion. Why is it that Republicans insist on being, as Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. put it, the “stupid party” when it comes campaigning and winning votes?

When you dispute accepted scientific theories because you aren’t aware of them or what they mean, that’s ignorance and it isn’t entirely your fault. But when you have the data available and it is your job to understand it so you can make decisions about steps we should take to fix problems and yet you still deny the issue even exists, you’re either stupid or in the pockets of people who pay you to appear stupid. You are also a problem for the American public.

While I may disagree with many Republican policies — social, economic or international — I know that Republican voters are not by their very nature unintelligent. In fact, I consider a certain right-leaning voter from my own household to be one of the most intelligent people I know. I also know that there are countless others falling into the same category and growing more and more tired of the backwards and unthinking rhetoric of the GOP, so I am not attempting to disparage all Republican voters, but rather Republican leadership that panders to the lowest common denominator.

In 2012, Jindal called on his fellow republicans to “stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.” However, as the calendar moved closer to election time and he started showing up in Ames to potentially set the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run, Jindal seems to have realized that winning the Republican nomination hinges on how much Democratic legislation you can disagree with and how fervently you deny climate change, so he changed his tune.

However, it is encouraging that Jindal isn’t just talking about how he disagrees with restrictions on the energy industry or Obamacare. He already made it known that he has actual ideas after presenting his energy proposal public and his healthcare plan to the public.

Regardless of whether or not you think his ideas are any good, at least he is bringing physical documents to the table for the American people to discuss instead of just slinging rhetoric and hitting talking points in interviews, much as Christie and Paul did when asked about vaccinations.

This is the problem that we are faced with when we associate with candidates based on their party as opposed to their platform. Republicans stand categorically opposed to government interference in the lives of American citizens, unless you want to marry someone of the same sex, then they tend to get really upset and do not want to touch the vaccination issue. Republican candidates historically align themselves with big oil industries, so they don’t want to talk about climate change or the role of human kind in perpetrating it.

When opinions about widely accepted theories from the scientific community become grounds for political divide, a change needs to be made. In countries like Britain, the climate change debate is no longer even a debate as both candidates for Prime Minister have signed a joint statement committing themselves to take action on climate change.

Stances against climate change, gay marriage and even vacillation on vaccinations could very well be the death of the Republican platform in its current form.

According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 20 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 40 do not identify with either party, but for individuals who do identify with a party or independents who lean toward a party, Democrats hold a significant advantage against Republicans.

Even the 2014 midterm elections do not prove anything for the Republican Party — much as they would like to believe — because the same striking defeats were experienced by President George W. Bush in 2006 and President Bill Clinton at the six-year mark of their tenures as well. In fact, history holds that these midterm elections handing power to the opposite party is nearly a formality.

The increased availability of information and proliferation of scientific fact standing against Republican principles should logically result in a strategy change for the GOP, but it seems, that the change will not come in 2016.