Americans revolt against MAGA governors 'misusing their power' by forbidding mask mandates: 'Backlash may be brewing'

Americans revolt against MAGA governors 'misusing their power' by forbidding mask mandates: 'Backlash may be brewing'
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit 2016, Wikimedia Commons

Although MAGA Republicans spend a lot of time talking about "states' rights," they aren't always big on local rights and will gladly shoot down local laws and ordinances they don't like — whether it has to do with marijuana, taxes, the minimum wage or COVID-19-related restrictions. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for example, have issued executive orders forbidding local school districts from mandating face masks in the classroom. And liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent, this week in his column, argues that Abbott and DeSantis are way out of the mainstream.

"With DeSantis and Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott actively thwarting local officials from protecting their constituents with mask mandates," Sargent writes, "a backlash to these antics may be brewing. A new Axios-Ipsos poll probes public sentiments on this in a novel way. It asks respondents about state laws that prohibit local officials from creating mask requirements. Both DeSantis and Abbott have sought to do this, albeit by executive order."

The Axios-Ipsos poll found that 66% of Americans oppose statewide prohibitions of local mask mandates, while only 33% favor them. In other words, the respondents believe that if local school officials in Dallas, for example, want a mask mandate, that should be left up to them — not forbidden by Abbott.

"What's more, the poll also finds that a whopping 77% oppose efforts to withhold funding from school districts and local governments that implement mask mandates," Sargent observes. "This fills in our understanding of public opinion. Polling has already shown that large majorities favor mask mandates when asked. This new data shows that equally large majorities oppose efforts by governors to actively prevent local officials from implementing such measures."

For his column, Sargent interviewed Chris Jackson, who heads public polling at Ipsos. Jackson told Sargent, "Americans think masks are useful and good in the fight against COVID."

Most Americans, according to Jackson, believe that governors who prohibit local mask mandates "are essentially taking away a useful tool for Americans to get back to their lives."

Jackson told Sargent, "There is a strong predisposition in this country toward doing something proactive to stop the pandemic."

Sargent argues that MAGA governors like Abbott and DeSantis are motivated by trying to please former President Donald Trump, not the health of residents of their states.

"These GOP governors keep telling us they are defending the liberty of Americans to live without health-care mandates," Sargent writes. "The argument is deranged nonsense: They selectively oppose such mandates in the case of COVID-19, because the preoccupations of Donald Trump and his movement require it. And by blocking local officials from implementing public health measures, they are impairing the ability of communities to act collectively, via their legitimately chosen leaders, in their own defense."

Sargent continues, "In numerous states, GOP laws have banned private businesses from imposing vaccine requirements and protecting their customers and the public health as they see fit. Fortunately, large majorities reject their thinking. Large majorities believe local officials should implement measures that put in place such collective self-defense efforts, and they see GOP governors thwarting this as the ones who are misusing their power."

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