Republican governors are repeating Trump's COVID mistake
Ron DeSantis. Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock
Are Republican Governors Ready to Do Everything to Slow the Spread of COVID-19? At the moment, it looks like most of them would rather take action that officials in their states could take to fight the virus.
This is especially true in Florida, which continues to set records for coronavirus hospital admissions. On Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis - a front runner in the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 - basically vowed not to do anything about the situation. In fact, the state's Department of Health is making progress in implementing a law to penalize companies that require "vaccine passports". DeSantis also blocks schools and government agencies from imposing mask requirements.
"We're not closing," said DeSantis. “We will open schools. We protect the workplace of every Floridian in this state. We protect people's small businesses. "
President Biden called on DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday for their obstructionist policies. "I'm telling these governors, please help," said Biden. "If you don't want to help, at least avoid people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives."
Of course, not every conservative GOP governor is that stubborn. Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson appears to be looking for solutions to his hard-hit state despite wrapping himself up by signing a law earlier in the pandemic banning mask mandates. For the most part, however, it seems easier for Republican elected officials to maintain their popularity with the party’s grassroots by blocking action than by doing something productive about the crisis they are facing.
Maybe that's a great way to win the GOP primaries. However, it is less certain that the wider electorate will reward ostentatious demonstrations of anti-government attacks. After all, former President Donald Trump lost the White House mainly because of his terrible handling of the pandemic. And at least one recent poll shows that DeSantis' reputation is deteriorating with Florida voters. It's hard to imagine that if he loses a gubernatorial election next year he could win a presidential nomination. Trying to contain the spread of COVID isn't just the right thing to do - it's good policy in the long run.
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