The recent outbreak of measles has led to the latest round of debates surrounding vaccinations.  The media seems eager to make this the latest controversy to doom potential GOP candidates.  This is just par for the course; this is how it's going to be from now until the election.

Since the beginning of 2015, there have been 102 reported cases of the measles in the United States.  This is a lot, considering the median number of cases between 2000 (when it was declared “eradicated”) and 2011 was just 62 per year.  This current outbreak has been linked to an outbreak at Disneyland California. 

But this debate has become the latest litmus test for politicians striving to balance our freedoms with public health.  It has also become an excuse for the liberal media to paint conservatives as anti-science.

The science states that the measles vaccine is effective.  But the debate over vaccines overall has been controversial.  This is because of some studies which pointed to an apparent link between vaccines and autism.  Even Barack Obama cited this potential link during his 2008 presidential campaign.  He wasn't alone.  At the time, both Hillary Clinton and John McCain similarly expressed possible connections and reservations.  But the science appears to have evolved”since then, and the link between the two has largely been debunked. 

This hasn't stopped the American public from expressing its concern.  Recent Pew polling shows that 30% of Americans believe that vaccinating their children should be a matter of parental choice.  This leave 68% of Americans who believe that vaccines should be required by the government. 

Herein lies the political debate: Should vaccinations be a parental choice or mandated by the government? 

Potential GOP candidates Rand Paul and Chris Christie weighed in on the issue this week.  I actually agree with Chris Christie's initial statement which gave an edge to parental choice.

“It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So that’s the balance that the government has to decide… Not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public-health threat as others.”

His office later attempted to clarify, stating that when it comes to something like the measles there is no question that kids should be vaccinated. 

Dr. Ben Carson, another potential GOP candidate, weighed in and strongly backed the immunization of children.

What we have here is a case where we are assuming that the government knows best, neglecting the liberty of parents to make the ultimate decisions in how to raise their children.  When presented with the evidence, parents can come to their own conclusions.  For most parents, that conclusion is to get their children vaccinated which is great.  Nobody is advocating for public health risks.  But the debate conjures up the on-going tension between individual freedom and the power of the government to dictate how we live our lives.  How much power should the government have over us and for what legitimate purposes do we recognize its authority to mandate behavior?  These are legitimate questions for us to consider as a society. 

The reaction from politicians like Christie and others also isn't all that controversial or outside the mainstream.  Yet the liberal media, like the New York Times, would have you believe that this is the latest example of how the GOP will prove itself to be out-of-touch, anti-science or whatever sort of label the liberals want to pin on it.  Even Matt Lauer pointed out on MSNBC that this issue doesn't break down between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans.  In fact, many of those who choose not to get vaccinated are in liberal states or are the “affluent, the educated, the enlightened” liberal enclaves. 

Yet the media will use any excuse to report the news to fit its own agenda and make this another issue it can use to demonize Republicans.