In perhaps the clearest showing of arrogance and ignorance, we have seen from a government leader yet, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia swiftly filed a lawsuit against the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, accusing her of overstepping her charge regarding COVID-19 guidelines due to the mandatory mask guidelines she imposed in the city of Atlanta; an offense that if assessed by the court to be true, would also implicate as many as 100 other Georgian cities.
The basis however is farcical, the intent is sordid, to say the least, and the repercussions could be atrocious. Just last week, the Center for Public Integrity published a White House government document naming 18 states stationed in COVID-19 “red zones,” with Georgia being one of them, advising them to implement policies such as reimposing restrictions on residents, including limiting social gatherings, closing bars and gyms, and requiring people wear masks or face coverings. If Governor Kemp is allowed to strike down the mandatory mask mandate imposed by Mayor Bottoms as well as the similar ones in the 100 other Georgia cities, he is risking not just the health of Georgians but also the contingency of the state’s economy to revitalize itself any time soon.
This lawsuit simply holds no moral, scientific, or judicial merit other than standing in as a derisive display towards a small portion of his political base. What Governor Kemp has done here is choose to side willfully with the extreme fringes of his base, in turn making their culpability his own. Just last month, an ABC News-Ipsos poll reported that 87% of Americans chose to wear a mask in public during June, making it hard to reason why Kemp would so defiantly stand up for this minute group of people. Furthermore, Governor Kemp stands almost alone on this issue, with several other Republican Governors choosing to impose mask mandates, including Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama. This simply is not the hill he or any of his like-minded peers should die on, not when his own party is against him.
Neither the science nor the Republican ideology of small government rule back up his actions. It could easily be said that had this been a Democratic governor ordering a Republican mayor to enact a mask mandate, many Republicans would cry foul play. Moreover, with the economy in play here, any policy pushing back the full safe reopening of the economy prolongs the suffering of businesses and even risks them closing entirely. This means the same for the big and small business owners enforcing safety precautions as the responsible residents abiding by these kinds of regulations who in the end will all still be negatively impacted by the irresponsible actions of a few.
With Georgia’s cases rapidly increasing and their death toll hitting 3,264 as of July 23th, the science is just no longer arguable and the consequences inexorable. It is the duty of any elected official not only to follow the directions pointed toward by their constituents but to also make the hard choices concerning the well-being of their community. This is not a hard choice however and with an overwhelming majority of the population supporting measures like these, Brian Kemp is the one overstepping on the health of Georgians and the economy, that verdict is self-evident.