The idea that COVID-19 restrictions and mandates were not only politically sustainable but popular was always asinine, and it seems Democrats are finally beginning to figure that out.
Politico reported this week that a number of Democratic leaders are trying to put distance between themselves and the vaccine and mask mandates found in more liberal parts of the country — for good reason.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, for example, came out against a vaccine mandate for state employees this week, saying she knows that “if that mandate happens, we’re going to lose state employees.” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also backed away from implementing a vaccine mandate for public school teachers and other state workers after narrowly winning reelection last month.
Several Democratic senators have also raised concerns about the Biden administration’s sweeping vaccine mandates. At least two of them, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, have agreed to join Republicans in using the Congressional Review Act to nullify Biden’s mandate for private employers, according to Republican Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
The reason is obvious: COVID-19 mandates make for bad politics. They’re polarizing and unpopular, in large part because the average person doesn’t want to be ordered by the government to get a shot, that he or she might not want, to keep a job or eat in a restaurant or go to a concert. That’s why Republicans did so well in Virginia's and New Jersey’s elections last month and why California Gov. Gavin Newsom faced a recall election in one of the bluest states in the country this past September. The more you infringe upon peoples’ day-to-day lives, the harder they will push back.
Whitmer wants to win reelection. Murphy, Manchin, and Tester want to keep their voters happy. And right now, it seems they’re the only ones with the foresight to recognize the public’s frustration with mandates and continued COVID-19 restrictions. The rest of the party is as out-of-touch as usual.