How much of American politics is performative? How much is purely just for show? These creatures that we’ve elected…where does their character end and their heart begin? Do they scrape this skin off at night before they tuck themselves in and dream up the sort of lizard-brained, fiscal-Darwinian schemes that keep us all enslaved to the almighty dollar.
The unfortunate truth is that quite a bit of our political system is the sheen. The shine. The patina and the pastiche. We expect that lawmakers with Pennsylvania Avenue dreams, (like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis), will do out of their way to be known.
In this pursuit, DeSantis has taken a novel, freedom-forward approach to legislating around the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a pre-emptive ban on mask-mandates – a move that several school districts have been pushing back against…hard.
This week, a judge put another nail in the coffin of DeSantis’ controversial policy.
A Florida judge ruled Wednesday that the state cannot enforce a ban on public schools mandating the use of masks to guard against the coronavirus, while an appeals court sorts out whether the ban is ultimately legal.
Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper lifted an automatic stay of his decision last week that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and state education officials exceeded their authority by imposing the blanket ban through executive order and tagging defiant pro-mask local school boards with financial penalties.
Cooper said the overwhelming evidence before him in a lawsuit by parents challenging the DeSantis ban is that wearing masks does provide some protection for children in crowded school settings, particularly those under 12 for whom no vaccine yet exists. The issue came to a head amid a recent surge in cases caused by the more contagious and deadly delta variant of the virus, which health statistics show has begun to wane.
He did not mince his words.
“We’re not in normal times. We are in a pandemic,” Cooper said during a hearing held remotely. “We have a (coronavirus) variant that is more infectious and dangerous to children than the one we had last year.”
DeSantis is also locked in a legal fight in which Florida is facing a lawsuit from an international cruise line over the state’s forbidding of vaccine proof requirements for customers in Florida.