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Finesse and Firmness

He did sound somewhat rhetorical on Thursday when he said: “To the mayors, school superintendents, educators, local leaders, who are standing up to the governors politicising mask protection for our kids: thank you. Thank God that we have heroes like you, and I stand with you all, and America should as well.”

SNS | New Delhi |

President Joe Biden has toughened his policy towards vaccination without provoking a backlash in the United States of America which bears witness to arguably the highest number of casualties, in part due to Donald Trump’s negligent nonchalance.

Mr Biden has become more aggressive in exerting pressure on Americans to get vaccinated; and yet he has tempered his approach with a remarkable degree of moderation. Chiefly, he has refrained from using all his powers. Over the past two weeks, the President has forced millions of federal workers to attest to their vaccination status or face what the White House calls “onerous new requirements”.

Towards that end, he has also met business leaders at the White House to press them to do the same. Additionally, the administration has taken steps towards mandating shots for people travelling into the United States from abroad. The White House is weighing options to be more assertive at the state and local level, including potential support for school districts by imposing rules to prevent the spread of the virus over the objection of Republican leaders.

He did sound somewhat rhetorical on Thursday when he said: “To the mayors, school superintendents, educators, local leaders, who are standing up to the governors politicising mask protection for our kids: thank you. Thank God that we have heroes like you, and I stand with you all, and America should as well.”

In a word, President Biden has advanced almost an exceptional blend of firmness and moderation, or persuasion if you will. But even as he has done so, he has held himself back to an extent. He has, for instance, held off on proposals to require vaccinations for all air travellers or, for that matter, the federal workforce.

The initiative has been greeted with the comment that the vaccination programme is a “precarious balancing act” as Mr Biden works to make life more uncomfortable for the unvaccinated without provoking a backlash in a deeply polarized country. Should that happen, it could only undermine his public health objectives.

Biden’s fresh praxis signifies a new phase in the government’s campaign to encourage Americans to get shots. The sharper federal approach comes as nearly 90 million eligible Americans still have not been vaccinated. Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says shots are the only path for the nation to contain the Delta variant.

White House officials say President Biden wanted to initially operate with restraint to ensure that Americans were ready for the “strong-arming from the federal government”. The federal moves have been carefully calibrated to encourage a wave of businesses and governments to follow suit. Public opinion continues to shift towards requiring vaccinations as a means to restore normalcy. The White House has initiated an essay towards tact and firmness.