Amid widespread panic and alarmism over the “Delta variant” of COVID-19, Mayor Muriel Bowser just reinstated an indoor mask-mandate in Washington, DC. She did so despite the capital city seeing just four COVID deaths in July, leading many to dub the renewed restrictions mere security theater. The mayor’s case isn’t helped by the inconsistency of her own behavior.
Bowser officiated a wedding over the weekend with hundreds of unmasked attendees, the Washington Examiner’s Tiana Lowe exclusively reports. The event was held at a 4-star hotel and the mayor did not wear a mask even though her indoor mask mandate had just hours before gone into effect city-wide.
EXCLUSIVE: Not 24 hours into the indoor mask mandate she imposed on DC, Muriel Bowser officiated an indoor wedding in Adams Morgan and stayed to fete with *hundreds* of fellow maskless guests. https://t.co/hY0Ji2zqnj
— Tiana Lowe (@TianaTheFirst) August 1, 2021
Unfortunately, Mayor Bowser is hardly the first politician whose hypocrisy has been exposed. Here are 12 examples of high-profile politicians caught flouting the pandemic rules their own government imposed, as cataloged by the Heritage Foundation’s COVID hypocrisy tracker.
1. Mayor Bill de Blasio
The New York City mayor reportedly hit the gym and went to a local YMCA in March 2020 at the same time the state government was ordering New Yorkers to avoid “non-essential” business.
2. Mayor Lori Lightfoot
The Chicago mayor reportedly got a haircut in April 2020 while her city’s stay-at-home orders made doing so unlawful for most residents.
3. Governor Ralph Northam
The Virginia governor reportedly socialized in close quarters without a mask despite urging Virginians to wear masks in similar settings and practice social distancing.
4. Governor Andrew Cuomo
The New York governor reportedly traveled to Georgia in July 2020 for what critics called a PR stunt while discouraging New Yorkers from engaging in “non-essential” travel.
5. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
The California congresswoman has been a vocal advocate of mask mandates and social distancing orders. However, she got a haircut in San Francisco at a salon opened specially for her while they were generally closed due to such restrictions. And just this week a video went viral showing Pelosi removing her mask for a photo-op with a fellow member of Congress in violation of her recently reinstated congressional mask mandate.
6. Governor Gavin Newsom
The California governor dined maskless at a fancy indoor restaurant, the French Laundry, violating his own COVID-19 protocols.
7. Senator Dianne Feinstein
The California senator was pictured maskless in the halls of Congress in conversation with aides, despite having called for nationwide mask mandates and mandatory mask-wearing in public.
8. Governor Gina Raimondo
The former Rhode Island governor closed bars in her state, but reportedly attended a maskless “wine and paint” night at a bar anyway.
9. Governor Phil Murphy
The New Jersey governor reportedly attended President Biden’s January inauguration even though his state government was discouraging non-essential travel and prohibiting large gatherings.
10. Congressman Jamie Raskin
The congressman was captured on video speaking on the floor of Congress without a mask, despite having advocated that members who don’t wear masks be fined.
11. Governor Gretchen Whitmer
In May, the Michigan governor hit the bar with friends in violation of her own restrictions. She has also admitted to traveling to Florida to visit her sick father despite the state discouraging Michiganders from similar travel. The governor also banned large gatherings yet decided to attend President Biden’s inauguration.
12. Mayor Muriel Bowser
The aforementioned maskless wedding scandal isn’t the DC mayor’s only brush with pandemic hypocrisy. She also reportedly attended a party maskless just hours before her new mandate went into effect. And Bowser attended an election victory party for President Biden even while her government discouraged Washington residents from “non-essential” travel.
The Takeaway: Hypocrisy and Corruption Are Features of the Ruling Class, Not Bugs
The above 12 examples of politicians caught in COVID hypocrisy are just a select few from dozens and dozens more cataloged by the Heritage Foundation. And there were no doubt many more who engaged in similar acts and weren’t caught.
The glaring “rules for thee, but not for me” approach of our political class during the pandemic to date is yet more confirmation that inequality and selective enforcement are inherent to big government systems. As FEE Managing Editor Jon Miltimore explained, “As government control over the economy expands and free markets recede, privileges increasingly become the province of those in power or those who have proximity to power.”
Having been given the enormous power to dub some businesses “essential” and close others, outlaw some livelihoods and not others, and more, politicians drunk on pandemic power were inevitably going to abuse this wild authority. So, the many examples of COVID hypocrisy from our elected officials have grave ramifications far beyond the individual officeholders and their personal integrity. They deal a serious blow to the arguments of those who think benevolent big government will lift us up instead of grinding us down.
Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Policy Correspondent at the Foundation for Economic Education.
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