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What Ron DeSantis' Stance on Vaccines Proves About His Character

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

When the COVID-19 vaccine became available, it presented public officials with an odd kind of dilemma. Do politicians take the vaccine to prove that it is reliable, or do they wait to take the vaccine until more vulnerable populations can take it first?

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep.-elect Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) said Congress should not get priority to receive the vaccine. This put Omar, a member of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) “Squad,” on the other side of AOC herself, who publicly took the vaccine.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) sided with Omar and Mace, but he also very much defended the vaccine. When a reporter asked his position on taking the vaccine personally, he threaded the needle well.

“What I’ve said is I’m willing to take it, but I’m ont the priority. They’re the priority. I’m under 45 and so the people under 45 are not going to be first in line for this. So when it’s my turn, I will take it. But this is who I want to be vaccinated. I want my parents, our grandparents, to be able to get it,” DeSantis said.

Then the governor added a little nugget that demonstrated his character in the midst of this pandemic.

“Granted, I’m an elected official— but whoop dee doo. At the end of the day, let’s focus where the risk is,” DeSantis added.

This little statement speaks volumes about the governor’s humility in this situation. State and local officials have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to seize some form of power. Many of them may mean well, but many have used lockdowns as an excuse to crack down on some gatherings more than others.

Others have shown a despicable double standard, applying COVID-19 restrictions on their citizens while flagrantly violating those restrictions themselves. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) made his infamous jaunt over to the French Laundry, while Denver Mayor Michael Hancock traveled to visit family in Mississippi after encouraging Coloradans to “stay home as much as you can.”

This double standard suggests these politicians think of themselves as more important than the hoi polloi. In this context, DeSantis’ brief statement, “I’m an elected official— but whoop de doo,” really stands out.

At least at that moment, Florida’s governor didn’t see himself as a cut above, he saw himself as just another guy who belongs closer to the bottom of the list. At age 42, he faces a much lesser risk of contracting and experiencing serious symptoms from COVID-19 than people above age 45, and especially those above 65.

DeSantis did not just put himself back in the line, he also expressed humility about it. For that, Floridians — and Americans in general — should be very grateful.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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