How far could a pol get embracing anti-vaccination positions?

I just finished updating myself on the Pit thread about anti-vaccination groups. Personally, the very idea of discouraging vaccinations disgusts me, not the least because I’m the proud uncle of two young nephews, and the idea of them being harmed because some yahoo believed Andrew Wakefield is abhorrent.

But then I thought about the (apparent) popularity of said position; after all, there wouldn’t be controversy if it weren’t relatively significant. Then I thought of all the equally crazy, if not crazier, positions being advanced by politicians right now.

So that brought me to my question: if a politician (on either side of the aisle) started advancing anti-vaccination ideas and promises, do you think that would help or hurt him/her? Where would (s)he have to be running for it to help?

Please don’t give them any ideas.

Robert Kennedy, Jr., wrote in Rolling Stone in 2005 that he believes there’s a government conspiracy to cover up the relationship between vaccines and autism. Don’t know if he actually ran with that plank in his candidacy platform, though.

It’s a fringe idea: there simply aren’t enough people with severe autism. Sure, John McCain might say in 2008 that there’s strong evidence of a vaccine-autism link, in conflict with five major studies finding no relationship between autism and vaccines. But I doubt whether embracing this sort of nuttery will get you much traction. Right wing financiers prop up supply side and global warming crankery because it’s in their interest to do so. Modern conservatives love the anti-gov stuff because certain ideologies complement some kinds of posturing. Only certain types of crazy survive in the marketplace of loons.

Just show a few old B&W pictures of kids stricken with polio and the politicians will run for cover.

What about all the damned commercials that announce that 1 in 105 [i think that is hte number] of kids born now are autistic…if you go by those numbers, the country should all be in special education classes … [and that makes the entitlement whore mommies out here who all have special brilliant snowflake kids that are too intelligent to suffer doing plebian homework all liars?]

I wouldn’t be too surprised if there are some antivax politicians in the House. I can’t name one, though. I did a quick search to see what Michele Bachmann thinks of them but she doesn’t seem to have made any significantly anti-vaccination statements. In the right places that kind of crazy would be ok, but I don’t think you could get elected on a primarily anti-vaccination platform.

I continue to be glad he was not appointed to a position in the Obama administration or given a crack at New York’s open Senate seat. Giving him a place to advance this agenda would have been terrible.

As RFK Jr. proves, anti-vaccination stupidity is not a right- or left-wing thing. It’s a paranoid idiot thing. From a political standpoint I wonder if it is hard to get these people to vote because they don’t trust politicians or the system anyway.

1 in 105 is “all?” It’s less than one percent of all kids. And perceptions of autism have changed over the years. When people first became aware of autism, I think people believed every autistic person as a severely disabled Rain Man type. These days people talk about “autism spectrum disorders” like Asperger’s. These are people with some problems and symptoms of autism, but they’re often mild.

There are not enough people with autism for their families to form a big political base. The U.S. population is about 307 million, and around 24 percent of those people are under 18. If we assume 1 out of every 110 of those people are autistic, that’s about 680,000 people. Even if we assumed all autistic kids have families who are antivax nuts, which is not true, it’s a small group of people. There are probably way more antivaxers than people with autism. I guess that shows how far the ignorance goes.

What? Look, it’s like new! Tell ya what, I’ll knock 30 Roentgens off the price and throw in a pre-cyberzoic Klein bottle; but only if you accept this offer by 37:98$ longitude E.S.T.

How far could a pol get embracing anti-vaccination positions?

Possibly into Jenny McCarthy’s pants.

Aside from the question of severity, 1% is a pretty big number if autism is considered against the incidence of “common” birth defects. Of course, it may not be a birth defect…

That may be true. I was trying to back Measure for Measure’s point: there aren’t that many people with severe autism. That makes it less likely these people could form a base for a national political figure. But antivaxers probably outnumber autistic people anyway and most of them probably don’t even know anyone who is autistic. The idea of an AMA-Pharma-Big Government conspiracy just fits into their worldviews.

Well there is Senator Ron Paul and Congressman Stan Jones (who famously turned himself blue). I haven’t really heard them endorse the autism link, they both are against mandatory inoculations.

Ron Paul is a Congressman, not a Senator. That’s what I was saying before: I figured a few antivaxers have gotten into the House, but it’s tough to sell that viewpoint across an entire state. There are about 650,000 people in his district. Texas has 32 congressional districts and that district might be the ninth or tenth largest.

Rand Paul, however, is running for Senate, and looks likely to win, and is a member (often using its literature in his speeches, he boasts) of a crank-group called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which is hostile to mandatory vaccine regulations. See posts #38-42 of this thread.

Exactly. You can bet your ass that if anti-vaxing was profitable, the Glenn Becks, Sarah Palins, and John Boners of the world would be all over it.

That reminds me to start working on the vaccination nullifying serum I just thought of. Good for all that doesn’t ail you.

I forgot about him. Although it seems he’s been distancing himself from some of the hardcore libertarian stuff as he campaigns.

I’m not so sure about that. I’m thinking he’s just not opening his mouth as often.

Always a sound strategy when you’re ahead in the polls.

True, but keeping your mouth shut must be one of the worst forms of torture for a politician. I think we should waterboard at least some of them to stop them from talking.