Washington, DC – Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas are more interested in advancing their political ambitions than in protecting the children in their states. So say leading editorial boards and columnists in Florida and Texas.
As CNN’s National Political Reporter Maeve Reston writes:
Republicans like DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, both potential 2024 presidential contenders if Trump doesn’t run, are trying to burnish their conservative credentials by holding fast to their bans on mask mandates…Under the guise of giving parents control, these Republicans have dispensed with the long-cherished GOP principle of local control and are taking a life-and-death gamble with children’s lives.
In the face of their recklessness, Texas and Florida newspapers are blasting DeSantis and Abbott for putting politics and scapegoating ahead of public health:
- Miami Herald editorial, Welcome to Florida, where COVID-19 is rampant, but mask mandates are the enemy: “They are telling us that the real threat to public health, in particular to children, isn’t the coronavirus. It’s mask mandates. And the villains? Educators armed with disposable face coverings. It’s a perversion of public health. The playbook turns one of the weapons in the fight against COVID into a threat so serious it requires government intervention. For instance, DeSantis signed an executive order threatening school districts that require masks with funding cuts. But that same government washes its hands from fighting the real threat — you know, the one that has killed close to 40,000 Floridians…”
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial, As COVID Numbers Pick Up, DeSantis Politicizes Public Health: “DeSantis’ determination to stop mask mandates in schools is a death trap. He calls such mandates “unscientific” because children do not generally come down with serious cases of COVID. But he foolishly stops there instead of connecting the dots of infection to everyone else. As the Centers for Disease Control has noted, children and adolescents can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, can get sick with COVID-19, and can spread the virus to others … Time and again, the governor bizarrely equates public health measures with affronts to liberty, promotes vaccination only in as much as it promotes his own self-image, and attacks anyone who disagrees. His ego and ambition have made Florida sicker.”
- Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago, Incredibly, DeSantis blames Florida COVID surge on Biden, immigrants. Scapegoat much? “Struggling for credibility as COVID ravages the state, DeSantis — who faces reelection next year and also has his eye on the presidency — has come up with a new round of scapegoats for his failures: President Biden, immigrants at the border and media “hysteria.” Speaking Wednesday from Panama City, a red city with plenty of voters swayed by his brand of lies, DeSantis accused Biden of being the facilitator of the pandemic by keeping what DeSantis claims is an unsecured border with Mexico….Here’s what’s real: DeSantis still doesn’t care one iota about all Floridians; he only cares about stoking his base to distract from his failure.
- Houston Chronicle editorial, Did Biden create COVID super-spreader at border? The truth about McAllen: “To hear Gov. Greg Abbott tell it, if Texas has a problem with COVID at all, it’s because migrants are running loose … There is a long, sordid history in our country of painting migrants, or foreigners in general, as a disease-ridden scourge — from the exclusion acts targeting Asians that were justified around stopping the spread of diseases, to President Donald Trump, who used the pandemic to pressure the CDC to close the border entirely to migrants entering from Mexico. It’s far easier, and politically convenient, for Abbott and other Republicans to continue this legacy than to take ownership of their own failure to end this pandemic.
- San Antonio Express-News editorial, Be brave, gov; do right thing to stop surge: “Abbott, who has banned mask and vaccine mandates, can still do the right thing. He must be guided by science and drop his overreaching order against mask and vaccine mandates. This isn’t a political game. He must empower local leaders — mayors, county judges, school districts — to make the public health decisions needed to save lives.”
- Austin American-Statesman editorial, Masks and migrants aren’t the enemy, COVID-19 is: “You can’t win a war when you’re fighting the wrong enemy. But that is what Gov. Greg Abbott is doing as COVID-19 sends an alarming number of Texans into hospital beds and early graves. The governor is pointing his firepower at the wrong foes — local officials, mask mandates, vaccine passports, even the federal government and the migrants at our border — instead of attacking the virus that is attacking our state … Growing evidence indicates the delta variant, now the dominant strain of the coronavirus, spreads faster and makes people sicker, signaling a dangerous new phase in this pandemic. Still our governor blocks responsible measures and scapegoats migrants. Abbott is fighting the wrong battles, and Texans are suffering the consequences.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
There’s a new virus variant. It’s called the ‘DeSantis variant’ in Florida and the ‘Abbott variant’ in Texas. It consists of scapegoating immigrants to cover for your own failures in protecting the lives of your people in order to advance your political ambitions.
Abbott and DeSantis are motivated by their desire to hang onto Trump’s support in their 2022 reelection bids, and to replace Trump as the party’s presidential nominee should the former guy opt out of 2024.
In addition to endangering children in pursuit of power, they are endangering immigrants in pursuit of Trump’s support. The cynicism is disgusting. The rhetoric is dangerous. The residents of their states will have to work around these two ambitious men to stay alive and healthy.