When Rules Don’t Apply to Politicians

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Precious Kim, Staff Writer

As 2020 draws to a close, we’ve witnessed an unprecedented year with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has forced restrictions across the country and exposed the hypocrisy of politicians.

 

Health experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO) claim there is clear evidence that masks and social distancing help prevent the spread of COVID-19. To get the public to protect themselves with newly set rules and recommendations, politicians are expected to enforce and meet their own Coronavirus rules. 

 

Unfortunately, during the pandemic, we’ve seen politicians from all over the political spectrum get caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. While releasing messages across social media platforms and official statements to follow the rules to keep the COVID cases down and protect the community, politicians like Governor Gavin Newsom, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and President Donald Trump have been exposed as flouting their own Coronavirus rules.

 

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, was the first governor in the United States to issue a stay-at-home order. He has been vocal in his support for following the newly set state guidelines, yet his actions reflect a person who believes that rules apply to everyone except for himself. 

 

On November 6, Newsom and his wife attended a birthday party for political consultant and lobbyist Jason Kinney, at an exclusive restaurant in Napa Valley. Photos showed at least a dozen people sitting close together and not wearing a mask. His apology came the following Monday. “I made a bad mistake,” Newsom admitted. “I should have… drove back to my house. The spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted. I need to preach and practice, not just preach.” 

 

An apology is better than denial or ignoring the issue, but what would’ve been best is if he followed his own recommendations in the first place. Breaking your own rules doesn’t reflect well on your integrity, which is something the people have wanted from politicians for as long as governments have existed.

 

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has repeatedly rebuked her Republican colleagues, including President Donald Trump, for failing to follow coronavirus safety protocols. Her hypocrisy was exposed when her maskless visit to a hair salon was caught on a security camera. 

 

This was a clear violation of the city’s COVID-19 rules, yet her apology was pretty lackluster. “I think that they owe, that this salon, owes me an apology for setting me up,” Pelosi said. “Do you wear a mask when you are washing your hair?” Salon owner Erica Kious responded to the set-up allegations soon after. “For Speaker Pelosi to frame herself as a victim under a total false narrative while small business and workers all over California, the state she represents in Congress, suffer and struggle just to survive is beyond shameful,” Kious said. “Mrs. Pelosi owes the entire country an apology.”

 

The lack of a ‘practice what you preach’ attitude continues all the way up to the most powerful position in the government: the president. As the White House recommends mask mandates to states, President Trump has consistently forgone masks in rallies during his second presidential campaign and his family has also violated safety protocols by not wearing masks at the first presidential debate. 

 

This conflicting, hypocritical behavior sends the public a potentially dangerous message: rules aren’t necessary. Such a belief could lead to more people flouting the coronavirus guidelines, as they take cues from the people who are supposed to set a good example. It’s also insulting to those who follow the rules strictly, even when the consequences of keeping themselves and others around them safe are monumental. When our leaders undermine the recommendations of public health officials, it’s not just insulting and dangerous; it’s a complete abuse of power. There have been no official repercussions for these politicians, who only had to survive some media backlash before they continued as if nothing happened. 

 

As lawmakers, it should be a bare minimum for Newsom, Pelosi, and Trump to recognize, understand, and uphold the laws that they pass. The people vote for and elect politicians in a bid to have a leader that fights for and represents them; when politicians break their own rules, the disconnect between the politicians and the people becomes apparent and the people lose trust in their own government. A loss of trust would be devastating to the country at this point: with 14.4 million cases and rising, it’s critical to have politicians who practice what they preach to preserve the safety of Americans.

 

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