Statements earlier this week from two of Nebraska’s elected leaders baffle us. Gov. Pete Ricketts and U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse both issued statements with biting criticism of President Joe Biden’s announcement he plans to issue executive orders mandating coronavirus vaccinations for health care workers and companies with 100 or more employers.
Ricketts called Biden’s announcement a federal overreach and violation of personal freedom. Sasse chimed in by claiming the executive orders are “constitutionally dubious.”
If requiring Americans to be vaccinated against a deadly virus is against the U.S. Constitution, perhaps Sasse should explain how, for decades, American schools have been able to require children to be vaccinated against a list contagious and crippling diseases.
Ricketts said, “Americans — not the federal government — are responsible for taking charge of their personal health. It is not the role of the federal government to mandate their choices.”
He promised “Nebraska will stand up to President Biden’s overreach, and we will be working with the attorney general to explore all our options.”
The governor said Biden’s push for a vaccine mandate is a stunning overreach, but Ricketts is guilty of forcing Nebraskans’ response to the coronavirus. As governor, he issued daily updates that educated and directed Nebraskans’ response to the virus. He issued directed health measures. Restricting seating capacity for restaurants and ordering other unpopular responses to COVID certainly was challenging, but Ricketts rose to the occasion. He was an effective leader during a crisis that demanded tough decisions.
We would like to see the old Pete Ricketts taking charge of Nebraska’s response. Sasse, too, could do a lot better by his constituents.
Rather than setting so many Nebraskans against the president and his administration’s efforts to fight the pandemic, we encourage Ricketts and Sasse to be more a part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem by seeding distrust and disunity. Let’s invite both of them to outline their plans to rid the nation of this deadly virus.
Times of crisis normally unify the nation. We should be unified today, but too many Americans are fooling themselves into believing efforts to end the pandemic — mask and vaccine mandates — are assaults on their freedoms. We should remind ourselves that freedom comes with responsibility. Chief among our responsibilities as Americans is to unite against a common enemy. The faster we fight together against COVID, the sooner our economy will recover, and our schools will safely open.