Just how big is the backlash, especially among rural and working-class populations, and how far will Dems retreat to avoid it?
A few days ago, Politico was spotlighting the retreat on vaccine mandates.
The most recent Democratic lawmaker to voice her concern was Michigan Gov. GRETCHEN WHITMER. Once considered to be Biden’s vice president, Whitmer said she opposes mandates, citing the impact on the state’s workforce — as Michigan grapples with upticks in cases and residents are split on whether or not to get the vaccine.
Gov. PHIL MURPHY (D-.N.J.), shortly before an unexpectedly close re-election win, shied away from embracing a strict vaccine mandate for teachers and other public workers. Gov. KATHY HOCHUL (D-N.Y.), who is running for election after taking over for disgraced former Gov. ANDREW CUOMO (D-N.Y.), has stated her opposition to a “broad-based mandate for all private-sector workers in New York.”
Now Polis in Colorado is shrugging off mask mandates.
‘The emergency is over,’ according to Governor Jared Polis, who explained on Colorado Matters on Friday that vaccines have changed the COVID-19 landscape, rendering masks useful but not required in the state’s fight against the pandemic.
Ryan Warner: We often ask listeners to submit questions and for the last few months, the majority have asked why you won’t impose a statewide mask mandate. We’ve recently seen a surge in cases and a shortage of hospital beds. Is there anything that would prompt you to return to a statewide order?
Gov. Jared Polis: Our top goal is always to follow the science, and there was a time when there was no vaccine, and masks were all we had and we needed to wear them. The truth is we now have highly effective vaccines that work far better than masks. If you wear a mask, it does decrease your risk of getting COVID, and that’s a good thing to do indoors around others, but if you get COVID and you are still unvaccinated, the case is just as bad as if you were not wearing a mask. Everybody had more than enough opportunity to get vaccinated. Hopefully it’s been at your pharmacy, your grocery store, a bus near you, [or at] big events. At this point, if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s really your own darn fault.
When did Colorado’s California governor decide to join the GOP? He hasn’t gone anywhere that far, he’s talking the usual talk, but he’s also recognizing the political inevitability of having to move on from a permanent crisis.
Warner: It has been about a year since the first doses of vaccine arrived in Colorado. You see the arrival of the vaccine as the end of mask mandates statewide. That’s your position?
Gov. Polis: We see it as the end of the medical emergency. Frankly, people who want to be protected [have gotten vaccinated]. Those who get sick, it’s almost entirely their own darn fault. I don’t want to say that nobody [will get the virus if they’re] vaccinated, but it’s very rare. Just to put it in perspective, of the about 1400 people hospitalized, less than 200 (or 16 percent) are vaccinated. And many of them are older or have other conditions. Eighty-four percent of the people in our hospitals are unvaccinated, and they absolutely had every chance to get vaccinated.
Set aside the rhetoric, and Polis gets cover for a retreat from the state of emergency by blaming it on the unvaccinated. It’s a twist on the usual Dem argument that the crisis continues because of the unvaccinated. Polis flips the script to declare an end to the state of emergency because the unvaccinated aren’t worth saving anyway. Will his wealthy leftist base buy that rationale for his pivot? Probably not.
But they’ll have to make peace with it anyway.
Polis is signaling that 2022 won’t be 2020. He can’t afford it to be. Neither can anyone else.