The state of Kentucky is noted for its strong sense of tradition. Ladies still wear elaborate hats at the Kentucky Derby and the bourbon is still distilled in compliance with the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin gets that. He’s a traditionalist himself. That’s why, in January, Bevin suggested that kids should be left outside in below freezing temperatures to keep from getting soft. It is presumably also why he decided to take his kids to a chicken pox party instead of having them vaccinated like a responsible, modern adult.
Matt Bevin understands that tradition means scoring cheap political points by putting his kids in danger. What a guy!
Bevin is such a consummate traditionalist and upholder of old-school values, that he’s apparently too polite to share the groundbreaking research he’s done on the chickenpox vaccine, which mere modern medical professionals claim to be safe and effective. He’s not grandiose like that. Instead, he did the American thing and put his nine kids through fever, headaches, and rash while risking severe complications, including sepsis, encephalitis, and pneumonia. Does he look forward to when his kids come down with shingles later in life? Matt hasn’t addressed the issue, presumably because he doesn’t believe in the future.
Asked about his traditional medical approach, Bevin told a Bowling Green talk radio host, “They were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine.” This makes sense. In Bevin’s world misery is synonymous with childhood. Children should be cold, not coddled. Children should suffer sickness instead of being helped by science. Children should be trained by fourth-grade teachers to stop shooters because otherwise how will they learn to be plainspoken, bulletproof frontiersmen like pop.
But that’s okay. Because the point is that by surviving that terrible, itchy, cold and bullet-riddled childhood, you will grow up to be like Matt Bevin, a man who looks like he got a bad performance review at a mattress store because he hit on your mom. Here’s the problem: Matt Bevin is too humble to go far enough. If we’re really going to raise kids in the traditional fashion so they can be more Bevin-esque, we should also make sure they have 12-hour shifts in textile mills or — this one’s for you Kentucky — coal mines. We should bring back humiliation and beatings as a form of corporal punishment. We should bring back poorhouses and infant asylums. That would really toughen up the soft, entitled kids today. We should also take them to cockfights. Bevins is into that (look it up).
Alternatively, Bevins could think about honoring some older traditions. As a state leader, he could offer a positive example for his constituents. He could try to model behaviors that save lives. He could stop using cruelty towards children as political shorthand for folksiness. He could honor progress.
Or, better yet, he could return to the century he came from.