Although most conservatives have defiantly politicized mask-wearing during this pandemic, the irony is that they have been wearing ideological masks for decades. It’s why conservatives who tout that they are the “Party of Lincoln” continue to claim that the Civil War was fought for “states rights” and, today, are fighting tooth and nail to keep Confederate monuments that only serve to glorify traitors and racists.
The same phenomena can be observed in those who call themselves conservatives based on their economic beliefs. They claim in almost every situation that taxes are too high and that “entitlements” are nothing more than a road to financial insolvency and ruin. They claim the social safety net is too expensive and unstainable. For decades, they’ve whined about the national debt.
Well, that was until Trump gave the wealthiest huge tax breaks and exploded the nation’s debt long before the pandemic. Of course, when the pandemic hit, conservatives clamored for an extra-large helping of corporate welfare and, now, many bloated companies are shamelessly gorging themselves at the trough at taxpayer expense. It seems that when welfare is for the poor and needy, we simply can’t afford it and it will discourage inherently lazy poor folks from doing better for themselves. Yet, somehow if Wall Street needs some help, we’ve got tons of money (or we’ll print some) to prop up stocks and absurd executive salaries because excess and greed are admirable conservative traits.
Conservatives have claimed that they were the party of “family values” and higher moral ground, yet they’ve fought to end DACA for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children through no fault of their own. They describe them as sub-human leeches that are destroying America. Conservatives have made it clear that they’re just fine with brown kids in cages as they demonize immigration for political gain. They refuse to reform a broken system because it plays to their base who believes that American immigration should be only for those not coming from, as Trump put it, “s-hole countries”.
Conservatives want us to believe that they have superior religious values and morals, yet they ignore the multitude of sexual scandals and unethical business practices that continually revolve around Trump. They’re silently complicit with his constant lying and the obvious corruption permeating every facet of his administration.
As the pandemic and protests over police brutality consume our nation, the truth of conservatism itself has been unmasked. It’s a self-serving paternalistic political philosophy built on a foundation of social Darwinism and class privilege. It’s unable to confront the tidal wave of societal problems that engulf America because it’s delusionally self-centered. That may sound like an overly harsh indictment, but just take a look at the political debate over mask-wearing.
Conservatives claim that the government shutdown and the requirements for social distancing and mask-wearing were an unconstitutional affront to their rights and civil liberties. As one conservative friend of mine said in a Facebook exchange, “In America, we have the right to be stupid.” Well, you certainly do. However, when your stupidity begins to endanger my life and my right to pursue happiness without the need for a ventilator, our government has an obligation to keep your unfathomable stupidity from harming me and others.
So, as the ideological masks of conservatism have been cast aside, so have the masks that conservatives should be wearing to stop the spread of COVID-19. Over a million conservatives are rushing to sign a liability waiver to attend a rally without masks in Tulsa, Oklahoma to show their cultish adoration for Trump. It’s remarkable that so many of them believe the pandemic is a liberal hoax, but are willing to sign a legal waiver to be shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of people in a city where cases are skyrocketing… Perhaps, they’re just upholding their self-proclaimed constitutional right to be, um, stupid.
Conservatives have definitely thrown down their masks and we can see them quite clearly now. I wonder how many of them we’ll see in about a month after Trump’s rally in Tulsa?