Why a Mask IS a Political Statement…Just Not a Partisan One

Unless you’ve had the news turned off for the past week, you know that the Mask Wars are on, with a lot of people suggesting that wearing a mask marks you as a Democrat while not wearing one marks you as Republican.

And superficially, there’s something to that. We have a President who declines to wear a mask in public and who not only taunts Joe Biden for wearing one, but at a recent press conference shamed a reporter for being “politically correct” when the reporter refused to take off his mask at the President’s request.

All of that has had scientists scrambling to de-politicize the issue. Wearing a mask when you aren’t sure you can socially distance, they point out, is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to slow the spread of the virus. How effective it is isn’t fully known, but I’ve heard epidemiologists say that it reduces the spread by anything from 50 to 80 percent. And with exponential spread, that rapidly multiplies to a lot more than a simple 50 to 80 percent reduction in total cases. It could be the difference between losing control of outbreaks and suppressing them without the need for more extreme measures.

But they’re missing something. In today’s U.S., everything is political.

That doesn’t, however, make it as partisan as many are suggesting. Plenty of Republicans are calling for mask wearing.

Wearing a mask, isn’t something you do to protect yourself. It might help that, a bit, but probably not a lot, so there’s no loss of machismo by wearing one.

Rather, you do it to protect those around you…just as they do it to protect you.

There’s an old name for that. It’s called the Golden Rule. Or, as Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) , notes, citing the same source, love your neighbor.

That means he’s correct in not wanting it to be a partisan issue. But he’s wrong, in saying it’s not political. Not in modern America.

It’s a deep political statement. It says: I care.

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