Monday provided us a surprise that in my circles didn’t go over particularly well (and that’s being very diplomatic).
Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner who likes to tout that she’s the only statewide elected Democrat and engage in her own performative behavior when it comes to criticizing Governor DeSantis is not in support of a statewide mask mandate. Nikki Fried’s position which encourages local control is an improvement over what the Governor’s preemption has provided but would not do the job – in fact it’s a plainly political solution by a former lobbyist who is trying to “split the baby” on a polarizing issue.
“Every county needs to make their own decisions,” Fried said to CNN’s John Berman on Monday, when asked whether she would support a statewide mask mandate. “No statewide mask mandate, but I certainly would want every school board to have the power to make the right decisions for their own communities.”– CNN New Day August 2, 2021
“The right decisions for their own communities?” Really? What Florida community right now isn’t really under the gun due to COVID. Can we name even a single one?
Democrats must be aggressive on COVID – the time for political compromise or niceties has long passed.
From my perspective Fried’s down-the-middle positioning is an absolute betrayal of the need for Democrats to come out strong as Florida faces the nation’s biggest COVID-19 crisis since the New York area in April 2020. While Fried has performative said some very useful things about the pandemic to this point, now that she’s running for Governor she’s clearly trying to appear “moderate” in a classic Florida Democratic losing campaign style.
Bottom line is this – Fried is helpless in terms of actually impacting what DeSantis does, so by moving to the middle on this issue, she’s giving the Governor and other Republicans more justification to continue their policies about masking.
Democrats need to come out swinging on COVID and NEVER let up or compromise rhetorically. Every prominent Democrat in the state needs to be openly backing statewide mask mandates as well as the ability for any private employer to enforce its own rules in terms of vaccinations. Only these policies will allow Florida to once and for all crush this pandemic and avoid continued damage to our economy and reputation that is already underway according to the esteemed Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman.
Let’s hope Commissioner Fried reconsiders her ill-advised position.
Fried’s position is ironically the same as Republican Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s position which in turn is opposed by some Democratic state legislators such as State Senator Rebecca Rausch in Boston who want a statewide mask mandate at least for schools.
On the other hand Massachusetts has a 64% full vaccination rate compared to Florida’s 49% and Baker is doing his darnmest unlike De Santis to keep the vaccination rate increasing.