As someone who believes there is an autism epidemic and that excessive vaccination is the cause (see Bernie Rimland), I was sorry to see Rand Paul leave the presidential race this week. His less-government philosophy would clearly translate into more power to the parents, including the power to be more selective about which vaccines the government gets to give their children, and when.
I had a chance to tell him a few weeks ago that, based on 10 years of research as a trained observer (aka journalist), I have no doubt that vaccination is the main cause of our current autism catastrophe. He listened respectfully and said that, while pro vaccine, he didn’t consider “the science is settled” to be a fitting motto in any field of study. (I started my comments by saying “I’m a Democrat,” and still he listened!) I believe as president he would take steps that would finally get to the heart of the autism epidemic. And that would be a big deal.
It’s also worth remembering that few people who run for president win the first time out. Stay tuned.
So now we have Donald Trump (and Ben Carson, but I’m going to take a minor risk and count him out). If you are for Trump, I’m jealous, because the only thing I do like about him is the fact he has said, more than once, that the current vaccine schedule of too many, too soon, is behind the autism epidemic (see Rimland, again). While Rand came by his views philosophically, Trump’s basis appears to be anecdotal and “gut.” Either is fine if it gets us out of this nightmare.
Would Trump conveniently drop these concerns if elected because they really are not deeply seated in a governing philosophy, because he doesn’t have one? In other words, would we all get fooled again (remember, Bush II was gonna git that thimerosal outta there.) Well, Jimmy Carter said the other day that Trump would be “malleable” as president because he doesn’t really believe in anything (whereas Cruz does, and not to Carter’s liking). And that, he said, made Trump the better choice (although when Lindsay Graham, a truly likeable candidate I really couldn’t disagree with more, said the choice between the two was like being poisoned or shot, I had to laugh).
My own hunch? Trump would stick with this position, because another word for “anecdotal” is personal, and he says he’s seen this happen to his own employees. (And he's not getting pharma money.) People who’ve seen the shot, illness, regression sequence happen, or believe those who do, and who don’t have some financial or professional reason to cravenly pretend not to see or believe those who do, drink less Kool-Aid at the CDC-NIH-AAP water fountains.
To me the issue comes down to this: Would Trump as president cause more damage to the world than eight years of someone who has swallowed the vaccine theology (say, the rest of the Republican field to the best of my knowledge, or any given Democrat including Hillary or Bernie? When they fight over who’s more progressive, all I can think is which one will want to give more shots).
Short of nuclear war (Cruz said the other day that Trump might nuke Denmark, a strange place to obliterate unless the fact it’s a social democracy makes it the most threatening place on the globe), I doubt it’s possible to do more damage. Seriously, a few hundred million more kids around the world getting mercury-containing shots, and Lord knows what Zika and Ebola and autism-preventing vaccines get cooked up in the meantime, strikes me as about as bad an outcome as I can imagine.
What bothers me is not that someone might disagree with me on how this plays out politically, because I’m still in the middle of trying to make sense of it myself, but that some in the vaccine advocacy world seem to dismiss Trump (and did dismiss Paul) out of hand because they aren't to their political liking. I find that to be intellectually inconsistent; one has to engage the issue of autism causation, and who can stop it and treat it and face up to it, if one is serious about believing that vaccine policy as presently constituted is an urgent public health crisis.
On Facebook recently there was a thread started by a Bernie supporter. Since this person (I don’t run other people’s comments or names from Facebook since it’s kind of a private space) shares my views on autism and vaccines, and since others chimed in to support Bernie, I posted these comments:
Dan Omsted as far as i know Bernie is your typical progressive vaccine advocate. isn't that an issue to consider? especially when there is a candidate (trump) who seems to fully back vaccine safety concerns. not just our country but the world is being harmed by that. it might be more harm than anything trump could wreak. (and i say this as a progressive!)..
do we just set aside vaccine safety as an issue altogether?
… i certainly respect others' voting preferences. The problem for reliable Democratic progressives like me is that, since the last election, the Democrats have really emerged as the party of mandates (California) and suppression (Sebelius trying to shut up the vaccine debate), and the Republican-libertarian-freedom folks have been our allies. Vaccine injury, along with the personal devastation, is making us less competitive and costing us billions and soon trillions in extra health care costs. how is this anything we want to perpetuate?
So that was my two cents. What’s yours, fellow AOAers, on the eve of the first actual voting primary of the 2016 election?
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.