Michael Feldstein
Michael Feldstein

A Modest Proposal to Increase the Vaccination Rate

Back in June many of us thought we had turned the corner – and finally put the COVID vaccine behind us.  My wife and I began receiving Shabbos invitations for lunch, and masking seemed unnecessary even in crowded indoor venues.

Unfortunately, the Corona virus thought otherwise.  With many Americans still refusing to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons, and the Delta variant spreading like wildfire, we are back to taking many of the precautionary measures we adapted before the vaccine was distributed.

It’s frustrating because if more people would have the good sense to get vaccinated, we would not be in the predicament we are in now.

However, I do have a modest proposal that I’d like to suggest, which I think would geometrically increase the number of unvaccinated individuals to take the COVID vaccine – and get us back to a place where we don’t have to wear masks and practice social distancing.  Unlike Jonathan Swift’s original “modest proposal,” my idea is totally serious – even though some might view it as satirical.

The main idea to increase the number of vaccinated individuals in America is to convince former President Trump to speak out in favor of the vaccine, and encourage every American citizen who has not yet been vaccinated to do so.

This alone is not a new idea – in fact, many of his allies have pleaded with him to aggressively back the COVID-19 vaccine.  Unfortunately, President Trump has refused to get behind such a campaign.  My strong guess is that he feels that by doing so, he would damage his base of supporters, many of whom are unvaccinated.

Here’s where my modest proposal comes in, though.  In order to convince former President Trump to get behind a pro-vax advertising campaign, he would receive a pardon for all crimes that he may have committed in the past, whether or not they were committed while he was in office and whether or not he has been already charged with such crimes.

I know, I know.  I’m sure the idea of giving former President Trump a blanket pardon is abhorrent to many Americans — both to his critics, who feel he should pay dearly for his crimes, and even to his supporters, who feel he should be responsible for any illegal actions he may have committed.

However, such a pardon of a former Commander in Chief is not without precedent.  Gerald Ford pardoned  Richard Nixon after Watergate.  There have also been a few cases where people who had not been charged with a crime were pardoned, including President Jimmy Carter’s pardon of Vietnam draft dodgers and President George H.W. Bush’s pardon of Caspar Weinberger.  President Donald J. Trump pardoned Joseph Arpaio and others after they were charged and convicted, but prior to their being sentenced.

Politics, whether we like it or not, is often about making deals.  Sometimes the value of saving lives is more important than carrying out justice in the most precise way.  And in this case, I believe that if Donald Trump were to make a five-minute video, imploring those who have not been vaccinated to get a shot, millions of unvaccinated Americans would finally be convinced to get the vaccine – and tens of thousands of people would be saved from the ravages of this terribly destructive virus.  In my opinion, those benefits would outweigh any injustice that might result from pardoning him for his crimes.

Would Donald Trump go for the idea if he received a full pardon?  I think he would.  Former President Trump first and foremost has always been concerned with his own best interests – in fact, that is why he has refused to come out in favor of the vaccine … because he feels it would hurt his own political interests.  However, with a pardon in hand, he suddenly would not have to worry about all the lawsuits hanging over his head.

More important, making a pro-vaccination video would allow former President Trump to toot his own horn.  He could brag about how he was able to get the COVID-19 vaccine released in warp speed (an accomplishment he legitimately should be praised for, whether you are a critic or a supporter of his).  He could talk about the fact that he got the vaccine himself, even though he had COVID, and that he would not have agreed to take it if he thought it was unsafe.  And he could point to the fact that with more vaccinated individuals, there would be less need for government restrictions related to COVID-19, a subject that many of his supporters feel strongly about.

In short, the former president could rewrite history – and dramatically change his legacy.  While he still has a solid base of constituents, Donald Trump is most remembered right now for being a sore loser in the last election and for the part he played in the insurrection of the Capitol building in January of this year.  By making this video, he would suddenly be viewed as a hero who is helping to save lives by promoting the COVID-19 vaccine.  That’s certainly something Donald Trump desperately wants — and needs – for himself right now.

As to the video itself, I could see it appearing on right-wing websites and broadcast on local television stations in the areas where the vaccination rates are lowest (and where Trump’s popularity is usually the highest).  The video would be shared and spread virally via social media and email – faster than he COVID-19 virus itself!  It would be the talk of the media world for weeks.

I believe vaccination rates would increase significantly, and new cases of COVID would drop sharply.

A modest proposal.  Definitely an out-of-the box idea.  President Biden, are you listening?

About the Author
Michael Feldstein, who lives in Stamford, CT, is the founder and owner of MGF Marketing, a direct marketing consulting firm. His articles and letters have appeared in The Jewish Link, The Jewish Week, The Forward, and The Jewish Press. He can be reached at michaelgfeldstein@gmail.com
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