Sunday, June 28, 2020

'Face Masks Violate my Rights!

Several decades ago, Thomas ‘Tip’ O’Neill, who was Speaker of the House is associated with the adage, all politics is local.  In other words, caring for the needs of one’s constituents is the best strategy to preserve one’s political viability.  Of course, those were also the days when Democrats and Republicans – despite their philosophical differences – could argue and thrash out a deal.  Indeed, it has become political lore how Speaker O’Neill and President Ronald Reagan could capitalize on their personal chemistry to make progress for the nation.

Those were the days.

There is a different type of chemistry today that exists between Speaker Pelosi and President Donald Trump.  When they are mixed together, they form an unstable compound that is highly volatile and may explode.

Instead of all politics is local, we now have all things are politics, a sad bastardization of O’Neill’s principle.  Now, as we are all so painfully aware, anything can be politicized, which serves only to frustrate and divide us. 

We all know that many issues are highly political, as expected.  For example, if 2 congressmen argue if income taxes for certain Americans should be raised, this falls well within the realm of politics.  If the president proposes a change in our immigration policy, then we expect that various constituents will do their best to exploit the issue to serve their political interests.  In a perfect world, of course, there would be no political tainting of the issues as all good people would strive to serve the greater good and not their parochial interests.  Have you noticed that our world is slightly less than perfect?

Yet, one might have thought that certain issues transcend politics.  But, that naive notion is pure fantasy.  There is no issue today that can escape the predatory tentacles of the political machine.

Is this guy making a political statement?

Readers might be aware that we are in the midst of a pandemic and that our nation’s progress has been halting.  As I write this, nearly 30 states report that their COVID-19 cases are on the rise.  Every public health expert has advised us to wear masks, among other sensible recommendations.   Wearing a mask, as I do, is not a political statement; it is a public health measure.  I do it to protect those around me in case I am unknowingly infected.  And, it is possible that it might also afford me some protection.

Yet, there is a vocal movement of anti-maskers out there who vociferously argue that a mask infringes on their rights.  I reject this.  Their right to mingle near others barefaced is outweighed by the community’s right to avoid infection.  How such a simple act could become a political issue may seem baffling, but it is standard operating procedure today.  Earlier this week I watched citizens in Palm Beach County Florida decrying the mask and those who advocate its use.   One watching this venomous display might have thought that the government was poised to seize their homes.  Alas, it was only about a cloth mask to protect their neighbors, not quite a 'grab your pitchfork' moment.  

I challenge you to identify any issue that is immune to politics.  Apple pie, baseball, Mother’s Day, Sesame Street, stuffed animals,  petting zoos, Halloween, Thanksgiving…  

Stumped yet?

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