Yesterday, as readers know, Gov. Jared Polis announced a statewide order requiring everyone to wear face masks in public–an order that came after a controversially lengthy delay, in which Gov. Polis hesitated to mandate masks like many other states including politically conservative strongholds like Texas and Alabama have already done in response to renewed growth in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
When Gov. Polis announced his statewide mask order yesterday, unsurprisingly as Colorado Public Radio reports, the local “COVID resistance” movement, which includes an unfortunate number of elected Republican officials, swung immediately into action to undermine its effectiveness:
“Philosophically, it’s something that’s off limits to me,” said Weld County Commissioner Scott James, referring to mask mandates.
“If indeed it is ‘my body, my choice’ in a nation that celebrates liberty and freedom above all else, we must respect that,” he said. “We can inform someone, we can educate as much as we possibly can, but if that person does not choose to put on their mask, we must celebrate that choice.” [Pols emphasis]
…House Minority Leader Patrick Neville tweeted that Polis was “on a power trip,” and said he had hired attorneys with “the intent to sue” for an alleged violation of civil liberties, though he didn’t give any further details about the potential lawsuit.
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams’ statement on not enforcing the mask order will blow your mind–hopefully figuratively and not literally:
I have been overwhelmed with questions about whether my office will enforce the Governor’s mask order. Just as with the safer at home orders, my office will encourage citizens to take steps to protect their own health and safety but my deputies will not be taking actions to cite citizens for not wearing masks…
As always, we all need to be invested in our own safety whether that means carrying a concealed weapon or wearing a mask; be smart and be responsible. [Pols emphasis]
Folks, we can only hope that face masks will in practice be more widely adopted in Weld County than concealed weapons–and all we can say is it takes an awful lot of NRA money for that to be Sheriff Reams’ first free association with wearing a mask. As for “celebrating” someone’s choice to endanger their fellow citizens against the law and advice of every responsible authority on the planet? As we’ve said a few times now in this era of unprecedented crisis-addled insanity, we struggle to find words to describe how grotesque this is coming from an elected public official.
Gov. Polis’ reluctance to impose mandatory restrictions on the public is partly based on his own libertarian philosophical leanings, and that’s certainly worth debating the merits of. But the much more proximal cause is the fierce political resistance he has encountered from Colorado Republicans at every step of the state’s response to the pandemic. Although the measures taken to control the spread of the disease have provoked some amount of backlash everywhere, in Colorado our local Republicans have succeeded to a greater extent than in other (generally redder) states in sharply delineating along partisan lines the resistance to every kind of response measure recommended by public health experts.
Based on every available indicator of public sentiment, Colorado Republicans are setting themselves up for another major disaster in the November 2020 elections. Once again local Republicans are allowing their most immoderate elements to frame their general election message, and negating the effect of any attempt this year to purge their greatest embarrassments from the ticket and as a result dodge the coming blue wave.
Until then, and probably after as well, Colorado’s distinctly partisan GOP “COVID resistance” movement is going to kill some number of fellow Coloradans.
We take no pleasure in ending so many blogs this way lately.