Recently, I had a very good conversation with my wife about the health care worker vaccine mandate from Gov. Janet Mills. I don’t think any household embodies the debate on the COVID vaccine mandate better than my own. I am Maine’s first and only Libertarian state representative and my wife is a board certified physician.

I’ll preface this by saying that we are both vaccinated. It was not a big deal for her due to her military days and educational background and I am in a high-risk group. That was a choice we both made free of coercion.

Rep. John Andrews

The good doctor is very much on the side of public health. That’s the world she lives in and it is one I could never hope to understand. Vaccinated or unvaccinated, I know she cares deeply and to her core about her co-workers, staff and patients. She wants everyone to be safe and healthy and I think that is what drives most who choose health care as a profession.

She makes a lot of sense when she says that health care workers need to be “mission ready” to battle COVID on the front lines of this pandemic. I agree with that and see her point.

I believe that everyone who is able to should get vaccinated. This thing is real and not going away.

What I don’t believe is that the government has the authority or power to force a citizen to inject a foreign object and drug into their bodies against their will. The fact that the government is mandating this for an entire private business sector drives a wedge into the minds of people on the fence about getting the shot. It makes people question the motivations of those who govern them.

Those in power should always seek the maximum absence of coercion. In my world of politics, I see an ever-expanding power-hungry government. I do not want to feed it.

In Maine, departments of the state can make their own rules, declare emergencies and submit their own legislation. This allows unelected bureaucrats more power than they should ever have. My wife patiently listened to me and we agreed that “consent of the governed” is a fundamental American attribute that must be respected.

The big take away of this and why I am writing down my thoughts is because we both took the time to respectfully listen to each other. We made an active effort to actually hear the other person and where we are each coming from. That is severely lacking in today’s discourse.

Fear is an underlying factor on both sides of this. It is amplified by a 24/7 news cycle and it is filling people’s ears with vitriol and hatred so that neither side can hear the other.

We must realize that we are all humans who love their families and we need to start listening to each other. We must start working together to find solutions.

The ever-growing division in this country is extremely dangerous and must stop.

Do not let fear drive you. Talk to people you disagree with in a civil manner, do not judge them — learn from them and make the decision that is best for you and your family after hearing both sides.

Rep. John Andrews of Paris is serving his second term in the Maine House of Representatives. He is a member of the Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement & Business Committee.

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