If you had to pick a governor that the conservative media would love, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) wouldn’t seem like your likely choice. He’s a Democrat, openly gay, and has signed a number of bills into law that drive the right wing nuts, including a ban on conversion therapy and improved coverage for gender affirming health care.
Yet in the past few days, Polis has been getting praise from conservative pundits at Fox News and the New York Post. The reason? Polis declared the COVID emergency as “over” this week. That means no more mask mandate, which is the bane of conservatives everywhere who rate personal freedom higher than public health.
To be clear, Polis said that he’s taking his stance because of science — and because people who don’t get vaccinated deserve what happens to them.
“You don’t tell people to wear a jacket when they go out in winter and force them to,” Polis said in an interview. “If they get frostbite, it’s their own darn fault. If you haven’t been vaccinated, that’s your choice. I respect that. But it’s your fault when you’re in the hospital with COVID.”
In short, his stance is that you are free to be an idiot if you want. But take personal responsibility — another big Republican mantra — for your own actions.
Polis coupled his comments with yet another plea for everyone to get vaccinated and boosted.
“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,” Polis said. “The truth is we now have highly effective vaccines that work far better than masks.
“If you get COVID and you are still unvaccinated, the case is just as bad as if you were not wearing a mask,” he noted.
The right has immediately cheered Polis on. “Wow! Finally, a Democrat leader applying common sense and personal responsibility,” Jim Breslo wrote in a column for FOX News. “He could not be more correct.”
Breslo didn’t follow in line with Polis’s plea for everyone to get vaccinated, though.
“Americans should be free to take whatever measure they wish to stay healthy,” he wrote. “Control their immunity through nutrition, exercise, and taking vitamins — or not. Go out to restaurants or eat at home. Go to the movies or watch Netflix. Wear a mask, or two masks, or not. Get vaccinated or not. Get boosted or not.”
Some things on this list are not like the others. Controlling your immunity through vitamins in the face of COVID is like holding up a piece of paper to stop a bullet. People should be encouraged to get vaccinated and boosted, for their own sake and the sake of others. It should be a civic obligation.
If people want to shirk it, so be it, but it’s not a neutral decision.
Of course, many conservatives don’t consider refusal to get vaccinated as being irresponsible. They look upon it as a badge of honor, thanks to the toxic stew of conspiracy theories and crackpot science they follow. If dying is what it takes to own the libs, so be it.
Perhaps the best example of that thinking is another governor, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). His state saw a huge surge of COVID deaths just a few months ago, while DeSantis insisted that the state adhere to a no-mask policy and forbade cities from instituting their own.
Whether Polis made the right call remains to be seen. As the omicron variant takes hold, infections — including breakthrough infections — are rising at an alarming rate.
Still, praise for Polis from the right is a nice change of pace for him. Earlier this week, Danielle Neuschwanger, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor to run against Polis, made the absurd claim that Polis isn’t even gay.
“You guys want to know something crazy about Polis? He’s not even gay,” Neuschwanger told a gathering. “So, his real name is Jared Schutz, and he was married to a woman, who he used to abuse the heck out of.”
Now that sounds more like the conservative movement we all know.