Youngkin put constituents ahead of politics on mask mandate policy

Youngkin put constituents ahead of politics on mask mandate policy
AP Photo/Steve Helber

Governor Youngkin did the mask mandate repeal right.

I don’t mean eliminating school mask mandates, which he’s done. I don’t mean making mask policies a high priority, which he’s done. I mean the way he’s getting rid of mask mandates – by using an all-of-the-above approach that put a legitimate policy victory ahead of political posturing and tax-wasting grandstanding.

Youngkin’s Executive Order came fast – on his first day in office. It was opposed by schools, and at least one court questioned its legality. Youngkin could have played that up for partisan and self-centered political gain. He didn’t; instead, he immediately pivoted to the legislature to create a new, statutory law that would override existing mandate laws.

This kind of pivot is unusual among politicians who want press and attention over real results. Consider Republicans who ran for seven years on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. When the time came to put their money where their mouth was, in 2017, the Republican-controlled Congress and White House couldn’t get the job done. Instead of finding a way to uphold their campaign promises, they fought among themselves and then blamed the Left.

We see the same problem today with those who play up the “America is racist” canard. Instead of working with black Republican Senator Tim Scott on police reforms, they called Scott an Uncle Tom. Instead of celebrating Virginia’s election of an immigrant, black LT Gov, and a Hispanic first-generation Attorney General, they called voters racist for electing a white governor. The results? No positive federal changes to policing, increased crime in many cities, and a more bitterly divided America.

On masks, the same people who proclaim their love of science are putting a few minutes of TV and Twitter fame ahead of following the science. It’s clear that the ubiquitous cloth masks don’t work, yet alleged champions of the working class are forcing young people to fall further and further behind as students are socially ostracized behind masks which poorly protect them from a virus that has killed them at 1/36th the rate of accidents.

It’s easy to put personal ambitions ahead of results or to change the process when you don’t like the results. Democrats who celebrated BLM ripping apart cities suddenly dislike disruptive and largely peaceful trucker protests. Republicans and Democrats who opposed the other party changing Senate rules and traditions on judicial nominees generally support those same changes when holding power.

But a truly republican – notice the small “r” – government like America’s can only thrive when good systems are followed. The legislative process is designed to create debate and discussion, bringing many ideas to the fore. Sometimes, you must tear down a system that isn’t working; that’s how America was created, after all. But too often, “tear it down” is a partisan cry instead of one designed to move a citizenry forward.

I’m not a lawmaker, nor do I plan to run for office. I’m just a former journalist who is happy to see my state’s new governor put good policy over grandstanding. Instead of demonizing, instead of putting media attention ahead of his constituents, Youngkin took action on an issue that mattered and was able to use bipartisan support to create a longer-lasting win.

Again, one doesn’t have to agree with Youngkin on mask mandates to appreciate what he’s done. Unlike some other Republican governors, he’s not telling businesses what to do – he knows he doesn’t have that authority, nor should he. He’s not trying to create a special Youngkin exemption to following statutory law. He is standing up for science, parents, and children – and, as importantly, the good rule of law.

Dustin Siggins is the founder of the media relations and PR firm Proven Media Solutions.

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