OPINION

LETTER: Real leadership

Doug Tystad/Leavenworth

To the editor:

I just read Rep. Pat Proctor’s letter to the editor of Sept. 23, explaining his reasons for opposing mask and vaccine mandates. These mandates that he so adamantly opposes are designed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 so that we can get back to normal life in our community and country. I disagree with his reasoning and logic. 

First, he says he has “no problem” with masks or vaccines, but he just doesn’t believe that the government has the right to mandate such things in the name of public safety. He goes on to explain that a nameless bureaucrat in the Department of Labor should not be allowed to make a vaccine mandate, and it should be left up to elected officials, such as himself, to prescribe what’s good for his subjects. Unfortunately, he forgets that the nameless bureaucrat can’t make policy in a vacuum. That bureaucrat is carrying out the Occupational Safety and Health Act signed into law by President Nixon in 1970. When the Department of Labor mandates vaccines for the workplace, they do so under the law. 

Proctor’s view is that if left to their own devices, his people will do the right thing. If so, then why do we have over 675,000 dead in this country due to COVID? The undisputed fact is that masks and vaccines work to reduce the spread of the virus, but only if people use them. Following the vocal minority is easy when decrying mandates. Leading the hesitant and sometimes fearful to do the right thing is what is required to get us to the other side of this pandemic – that’s real leadership.

Proctor also notes proudly – and often – that he served to protect the Constitution of the United States for 25 years. During that time, he was personally required to take vaccines and as an officer, he was required to mandate that soldiers under his command take vaccines. Did he refuse vaccines personally or refuse to ensure that his subordinates were fully protected for any contingency? I suspect not since he retired honorably. So, what has changed, other than he’s now a member of the radical wing of the Republican Party?

Finally, because Proctor wraps himself in the Constitution and the flag and, well, “freedom,” I think it only fitting that he should have read the document which seems to form the basis of his current proclamation that the federal government doesn’t have the right to protect our nation under a standing law. If he had read the document, he would have seen in the first paragraph, the Preamble to the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

– Doug Tystad/Leavenworth