WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden will give his State of the Union speech Tuesday. The mask mandate will be removed at the Capitol. This is a clear nationwide shift by Democrats against the public safety rule which has fuelled a culture war.
The shift is due to a combination of science and politics.
With vaccines and booster shots readily available, the Covid-19 landscape is changing. It's proving to be highly effective in preventing serious illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , 70% of Americans live in areas with low- or moderate Covid levels. The mandates for masks have been eliminated or lowered in all 50 states, and the White House officially dropped its requirement Monday.
Donald Trump was defeated by Democrats who promised to control the virus. Democrats are now positioning themselves for victory against Covid in a difficult midterm election. Recent polling data shows that Americans are more comfortable with Covid-related illness, and are eager to get back to normal.
"We've beaten Covid. It's time to remove the masks. It's time to get back to living. Let's get our businesses open. Let's all get back to normal lives," Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said Friday on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher".
He said, "It's OK for me to succeed." "Some people are afraid to do that, but that doesn't mean we can't live this life."
"Moved out crisis mode"
Biden's polling company, Impact Research, supports the message. It studied Covid attitudes and found that most Americans were "worn out" of restrictions and have "personally moved out of crisis mode."
The firm advised Democrats to win on Covid in a February 16 memo. It warned that Americans are now more concerned about the economic impact of it than about its potential for infecting their family members or themselves.
The memo was viewed and interpreted by NBC News. It stated that "the more we talk about COVID and onerously limit people's lives due to it, the more they turn them against us" and that "the more we show them we are out of touch with daily realities", Brian Stryker and Molly Murphy from Impact Research. They warned that Democrats who continue to stress Covid precautions over learning how to live in a world with this virus would be "paying dearly" in November.
Republicans who have long resisted government mask mandates say Democrats are shifting to political ends.
"Democrats realized that they were becoming out of sync with the majority of people and in many instances appeared drunk on power, untethered by the latest scientific data," stated Matt Wolking (a Republican strategist who worked for Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's "come-from-behind" campaign.
Wolking stated that the Republicans will not forget that Democrats closed schools, kept children masked, fired frontline workers to make their own health care decisions and shut down small businesses. All while enjoying their lives without a mask.
"Hiding under the mattress"
Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Democratic campaign arm, stated that Republicans were wrong in opposing masks early on and that "conditions are different" if politics have changed.
"If you and me were driving late at night, and you suggested that you turn your headlights off then I would agree with you. I would agree with you if you told me to turn my headlights off at 9 o'clock in the morning. Maloney stated that you weren't right the first time.
Still, the cause has faced some skepticism from Democrats, who wonder if they're jumping the gun at a time when more than 1,600 Americans are still dying every day from Covid in the "I believe we should follow medical opinion."
The debate over mask mandates in schools continues to rage. These have become a new battlefield in the culture wars about Covid measures and the teaching of U.S. History.
Maloney strongly supported the removal of restrictions in New York last month, but acknowledged that there were compromises.
He said, "Look, all kinds of bad things could happen, but I don’t believe in hiding beneath the bed." "It's high time we get back to our lives."