Do Never Ending Mask Mandates Bode Well for Republican Midterms?

Jenny Beth Martin, The Biden Administration has decided to extend the federal public transportation mask mandate for another two weeks “to monitor [the] uptick in COVID-19 cases,” says the AP’s White House reporter. Joe Biden couldn’t be doing more to elect Republicans if he tried.

First things first: The Biden Administration never should have issued that mandate in the first place, and certainly should have allowed that mandate to expire. Vulnerable in-cycle Democrats – but I repeat myself – are going to be wondering what they did to anger the leader of their party so much that he decided to hurt them even more as they prepare to campaign this fall.

Second: Let’s retire the canard that the CDC “follows the science” when it makes such decisions. That wasn’t true from the beginning, and it’s not true now.

If the CDC had been “following the science,” it never would have issued a mask mandate of any kind, because the kind of masks the vast majority of Americans have been wearing don’t stop the coronavirus from spreading. The width of the holes in a surgical mask ranges from 2 to 10 microns, while the coronavirus is just 0.12 microns in diameter. That’s less than a tenth the size of the holes in the fabric of a mask. Trying to prevent transmission of the coronavirus by wearing a mask is like trying to prevent mosquitoes from invading your backyard by putting up a chain-link fence.

Further, as email traffic between Biden White House staffers and senior union leaders released last fall revealed, the CDC allowed the teachers unions to virtually rewrite CDC guidance on school reopenings and then, just a few weeks later, on mask mandates for school children – despite the absence of any scientific study showing benefits to masking children of school age. In both instances, the CDC was prepared to publish guidelines that were more lenient than those favored by the unions; in both instances, the CDC leadership yielded to pressure from the unions and toughened the guidelines accordingly. The CDC leadership’s decision wasn’t based on any science other than political science – officials appointed by a Democrat president didn’t want to get crosswise with leaders of one of the Democratic Party’s most influential constituent groups.

So let’s just look at the politics of the situation. The politics are clear – it’s long past time to end the mask mandate for air travelers. An American public sick and tired of coronavirus restrictions at all levels of society demands nothing less.

We saw the first concrete demonstration of that sentiment in last November’s elections.

In New Jersey, the GOP candidate for governor improved on the performance of the GOP’s top-of-the-ticket candidate from a year earlier by thirteen points; in Virginia, the GOP candidate for governor improved on the performance of the GOP’s top-of-the-ticket candidate from a year earlier by a dozen points, and became the first Republican to win a statewide race there since 2009.

The common denominator in those races was voters’ rejection of governments’ overreaching overreaction to COVID. As an after-the-fact analysis memo from a Democrat-sponsored focus group in Virginia explained, “One participant, a Biden voter, stated flat out that her vote for [GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn] Youngkin ‘was against the party that closed the schools for so long last year.’”

Those weren’t the only surprising GOP wins in November. Republicans across the country in state and local elections saw similar gains, with results so astonishing that House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said, “If you’re a Democrat, and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you’re in a competitive seat. You are no longer safe.”

It’s not the science that’s different now. What’s different now is the politics of the situation. The polls say a majority of the American public wants the mask mandate lifted.

In-cycle Senate Democrats understand this. A month ago, when Sen. Rand Paul’s Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval against the federal public transportation mask mandate came to the Senate floor for a vote, no fewer than eight Democrats (five of whom will be on the ballot in November) decided their political fortunes required them to break with their party’s leader – and they voted against the mask mandate.

Congressional Democrats are terrified about their prospects in the midterm elections. They should be. They are (rightly) concerned that voters will hold the Biden Administration’s failures – inflation, the surge of illegal immigration, Afghanistan, the massive increase in the national debt, among others – against them. They should be just as concerned that American voters exhausted by coronavirus restrictions will remember who extended those restrictions when they could have been terminated.

Elections are about choices, and campaigns are about contrasts. Biden is doing everything in his power to make the voters’ choice clear – he (obviously) wants Democrats to be seen as the “Party of COVID Forever.”

For Republicans, Joe Biden is the gift that keeps on giving. Bless his heart.

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