Earlier this year, President Biden announced that employers with 100 or more employees will need to mandate COVID vaccines or weekly testing for their workers. Although this was intended to help ease the effects of the pandemic, many people believe this new mandate crosses the line; including TN representative Tim Rudd (R-MURFREESBORO).
Rudd, who wrote an opinion piece in The Tennessee Conservative in September, claims Biden isn’t helping anybody with this mandate, especially Tennesseans.
I, an East Tennessean with medical professionals in my family, am here to tell you that Rudd is wrong.
Nearly four months after this mandate was first implemented, a new variant of the virus has moved into our country, and (according to USA Facts) there is a daily average of 2,437 COVID cases in Tennessee. I do not believe the 20,000+ deaths my state has witnessed are something that should be politicized. My community, my family, and my friends are all suffering from COVID in different ways; I am not embarrassed to admit that my state needs help controlling the pandemic and its fatalities.
But, like Rudd, some of us feel this mandate couldn’t possibly be helpful since it was put in place by a Democrat. Rudd explicitly states that “you are either on Biden’s side or the side of Tennesseans”, and it is quite evident by his language that he believes Tennesseans don’t want to abide by this mandate.
While his beliefs are not far-fetched, Rudd has forgotten that Tennesseans, regardless of their political identification, do not want their voices muffled by politicians.
Tim Rudd does not speak for me or for other Tennesseans. We speak for ourselves. Our opinions, regardless of what they are, are special to us. We pick and choose our own battles, and we allow ourselves to have respect for one another.
Rudd’s willingness to assume that all of us feel threatened by a vaccine is insulting, and quite frankly, humiliating to myself and others that I know. His promises to protect all Tennesseans might as well be empty, as he seems to care only for certain groups of people.
His opinions, though not the same as mine, are ones that I respect. I ask that Rudd treat opposing views with the same respect that I offer him.
COVID is something we all wish would cease to exist. Nobody enjoys living in a global pandemic, especially one that has changed our realities so drastically, but it is our responsibility to take steps that protect ourselves and our loved ones. Everybody should have the opportunity to feel safe and to protect their communities, and in my opinion, this mandate helps to make that happen.
It is within all of our best interests to help protect each other and to acknowledge our differences instead of ignoring one another.
Lauren Barton is a sixteen-year-old writer living in the Knoxville area. She is the founder of Tectonic Magazine and often writes about local politics. You can follow their Twitter: @laurenbarton03