Mask Wearing Is No Political Theater

Kevin Drum

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Over at National Review, David Harsanyi points out that the federal government probably doesn’t have the authority to force everyone in the country to wear masks. Fair enough. But then he goes further:

Mask wearing has become just another stupid front in our partisan war. The fact is that whenever Donald Trump fails to engage the federal government in ways that Democrats demand, they claim he is negligent; and whenever he uses the federal government in ways they oppose, they rediscover the Tenth Amendment and accuse him of being a dictator. Trump could no more declare a no-mask mandate than Biden could force the entire country to wear masks. It’s all just political theater.

No, no, no. Maybe Trump can’t mandate mask wearing, but this is the farthest thing in the world from political theater. It might be the most important thing in the country right now, and Trump’s bully pulpit is, by far, the most effective way of promoting it. He’s the one who made this into a culture war issue, and he’s the one who can stop it. If Trump declared that masks were important, Fox News would follow along, talk radio would follow along, and red-state governors would start putting in place mask mandates at the local level. On a personal level, the people who are refusing to wear masks are precisely the people who would be most swayed by hearing from Trump himself that mask wearing is important.

If Trump did this, thousands of lives would be saved. That’s no political theater.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate