DeSantis Issues Executive Order Prohibiting Mask Mandates
As an issue-oriented conservative, I recognize that sometimes principle and preference come into conflict. I find that to be the case with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banning all local mask mandates and vaccination requirements.
If you follow my commentaries, you know that I believe as a fully vaccinated person, I should be free to engage in society without restrictions or reservations. My chance of getting or spreading Covid-19 are so statistically low that extreme precautions are not warranted.
But I also believe that other vaccinated folks may choose to continue masking and distancing. I respect their decision. It is no harm to me or to others. I do not feel the same about those who – without justification – refuse to get the vaccine. They are a danger to themselves and others – just not to me.
That also means that I would prefer to move about without distancing and masking requirements. I truly do not think they are necessary for me.
BUT … I also have two fundamental principles in my conservative manual. I believe whenever possible, government decisions should be made at the most local levels. That is where we the people have the greatest influence. And I also respect the right of employers – public and private sector — to make regulatory decisions in their own workplaces.
In prohibiting businesses and smaller government employers from making decisions regarding the Covid-19 Pandemic, I personally believe that DeSantis has exceeded the healthy role of state government. He has stepped outside of conservative governance. Oh, he did nothing illegal. He did not abuse any powers. But – in my judgment – he made an unwise decision. It does not comport with basic conservative values. It prohibits local jurisdictions – including school boards and private businesses — from managing their workplaces and employees.
The decision to require masks in schools or restaurants is not a violation of any right. As would be discriminating based on race or gender.
There is a difference between the state imposing mask and vaccination mandates and preventing individual agencies and enterprises from imposing them in their own venues. We already can see that medical facilities have never reduced or eliminated the masking and distancing requirements – or the need for tests. Many venues do a cursory temperature check before entering a facility.
I would PREFER not to don a mask to enter any retail establishment or public building. But if that is the proprietor’s requirement, I either put on a mask or shop elsewhere. So far, I have put on the mask. That is because even as I may not see the mask as a necessity for me, I also do not see wearing or not wearing as the symbol of some cause.
If the school board in Broward County, Florida wants to require teachers and students to wear masks, I would most certainly disagree with that decision – as many parents do. But I cannot argue against the right of the school board to make that decision for their community. If they are wrong – or out of step with the public – the corrective measure is to boot them out of office in the next election. But for now, they have the authority – or at least, should have it.
Principled conservatives understand that it is wrong to arbitrarily and needlessly impose excessive government regulation on the governed by making folks do things they neither wish nor need to do. But it can be equally wrong in preventing folks –including the managers of employees and property — from doing what they wish or feel the need to do.
The very foundation of conservatism is to face the fact that individual freedom and keeping limited government close to the people occasionally means that my PREFERENCES get trumped by the greater importance of the PRINCIPLES. My personal desire to not wear a mask is superseded by the rights of employers to set even arbitrary standards.
If they require masking, distancing and even proof of vaccination, that is on them. If they are acting in defiance of the local community standards and public opinion, the citizens will deal with it at the ballot box. Or by taking their business elsewhere. Remember, according to our conservative Constitution, all rights start at the grassroots.
I like DeSantis – at least 99 percent of the time. But on this one, I think he blundered. Even in a great democratic Republic, you just do not always get your way.
So, there ‘tis.