Of Anti-Vaxxers and ‘Crunchy-Cons’

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul (and a few others) have sparked controversy over comments regarding vaccinations these last few days. It’ll be hard to complain when this is cited as evidence of a Republican “war on science” — even though the anti-vaxxer movement is composed of strange bedfellows.

Many of the people making dubious claims about links to autism, writes Nia-Malika Henderson, are “the same crowd that loves hybrid vehicles, organic foods and saving the whales and is often derided by conservatives as tree-huggers. The anti-vaxxer movement has scrambled the ideological divide in some ways, lumping crunchy California types with small-government libertarians. It’s helicopter parenting, mixed in with mistrust of science and the government.”

I’ve been proponent of the “Crunchy-Con” marriage of hippies and conservatives. This countercultural movement has been a mostly positive, if unlikely, partnership, advancing some traditionally conservative policies and behaviors ranging from homeschooling to breastfeeding to locally-grown food. But, I suppose, everything has a dark side — and perhaps this is it. (Note: Rod Dreher, author of the book “Crunchy-Cons” is decidedly pro-vaccination.)

Even as some prominent conservatives are falling prey to the madness, the proliferation of paranoia feeding it represents some decidedly unconservative developments. Blame social atomism and a declining respect for institutions and the social contract for some of this. People simply no longer believe the so-called “experts.” But this also says something about the triumph of selfishness and radical individualism. A society without a shared purpose or consensus — without a willing submission to the common good — is a society that ultimately gets more mandates. Liberty always requires virtue.

Matt K. Lewis