I’m not going to say that Republicans hate kids or want them to die, but I will say that they are pandering to their anti-vax, anti-mask base instead of prioritizing the health of our children. Republican governors are not just banning mask mandates, they are punishing school districts that implement them. At a time when pediatric ICUs are filling up and the Delta variant is spreading across the country like the wildfires, the policies are beyond irresponsible. They are dangerous, callous, and, possibly, deadly decisions.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott tested positive for COVID after banning mask and vaccine mandates. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis banned schools from implementing mask mandates. In Arizona, Governor Doug Doucy announce that he will deny funds to schools that implement mask mandates. So much for the GOP’s bullshit about local control. They just want power and damn the consequences. 

An Axios poll shows that 69% of people support mask mandates in schools, including 67% of independents and 92% of Democrats. In contrast, only 44% of Republicans support mask mandates in schools. Clearly, the GOP is governing for the minority—their narrow-minded and ignorant base. 

Too many conservatives are arguing that children don’t get as sick from COVID and seem to have a better immune response to the virus. However, about 1% of all children who get COVID wind up in the hospital. In other words, it’s a numbers game. Almost 2,000 children are currently hospitalized. If we put a large number of children in closely confined spaces with no protection, that number is bound to go up, especially since children under 12 are not eligible for the vaccine. As pediatric units get jammed with COVID cases, kids with other diseases won’t find the beds or treatments they need.

Conservatives have long supported the rights of a few individuals to infringe on the rights of others. They supported Jim Crow because they claimed that the government shouldn’t force businesses to serve Black people because that violated the business owners’ rights. They’ve long supported pollution that fouls our water and air because restrictions would put onerous requirements that violated the rights of businesses or people polluting. Now, they are claiming that that we can’t protect our unvaccinated children because we would violate the rights of their ignorant base to eschew any measures to curb the spread of the virus.   

Over the years, conservatives have used all kinds of terms to defend their placing narrow interests over the good of the community. They claimed states’ rights were about the constitution, not prejudice. They claimed deregulation would create more and better jobs despite pollution that threatened our health and our planet. They claimed the free market would find solutions to environmental problems better than government regulation and now the climate has been altered to the point of no return. And today, they are willing to put our kids at risk to satisfy anti-science, conspiracy nuts who are spreading a deadly virus that is overwhelming our hospitals and medical system. 

It’s really hard to get a handle on why conservatives are playing to their base instead of the majority. It’s also scary to think that they are preparing to govern this way for the long haul. Those governors are seeing the same numbers we all are seeing–cases and hospitalizations skyrocketing and ICUs overwhelmed. Preventing schools from taking measures proven to reduce spread will exacerbate the situation and the victims will be kids. They clearly care more about mollifying their ignorant base than the health of our children.

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