The Corner

Politics & Policy

There’s No Such Thing as a Federal Mask-Wearing Mandate

President Donald Trump wears a mask while visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, July 11, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Reuters )

Reporters keep asking White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany if the president will consider a mask-wearing mandate. Journalists keep writing about federal mandates. House speaker Nancy Pelosi says a federal mandate on mask wearing is “long overdue.” Joe Biden promises that if he’s elected this November, he would require all Americans to wear masks in public.

Have any reporters every wondered which federal agency would be tasked with forcing Nevadans or Texans to wear masks in public? Or under what constitutional power Biden can enact a mask-wearing ban in Vermont? Will he just sign an executive order? Or will he just declare a mandate like Michael Scott declared bankruptcy? And what federal agency would enforce the mask-wearing mandate? Will National Guard be called in? Will CDC paratroopers be dropped into Arkansas? Will Biden direct local police departments to chase down non-compliant joggers? Will there be a fine? Will there be jail time? Will the offenders stand in federal courts?

And what if Biden could enforce this edict? Every day, thousands of needless interactions over petty crimes put police in contact with Americans. Let’s remember that Eric Garner was killed for selling ten-cent cigarettes. Now, many of the same people who advocate “defunding” police want to create a national mandate that would result in thousands of interactions between cops and citizens.

The CDC already recommends that everyone “should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public” — though the agency recommended the opposite when the outbreak began — as a way of mitigating the spread of the coronavirus. The media can’t stop talking about wearing masks. Lots of people do. Some people don’t. Businesses are free to force customers to wear them on their private property. As far as I can tell, most do. State governments are free to mandate mask wearing, or strongly suggest it, or not.

Mask wearing has become just another stupid front in our partisan war. The fact is that whenever Donald Trump fails to engage the federal government in ways that Democrats demand, they claim he is negligent; and whenever he uses the federal government in ways they oppose, they rediscover the Tenth Amendment and accuse him of being a dictator. Trump could no more declare a no-mask mandate than Biden could force the entire country to wear masks. It’s all just political theater.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

Most Popular

The Consequences of Biden

If you have decided that another four years of Donald Trump would be intolerable, and the prospect of four more years of the dysfunctional Trump circus in the White House fills you with dread, fine. But approach the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency with clear eyes and no illusions. Electing Biden would move ... Read More

The Consequences of Biden

If you have decided that another four years of Donald Trump would be intolerable, and the prospect of four more years of the dysfunctional Trump circus in the White House fills you with dread, fine. But approach the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency with clear eyes and no illusions. Electing Biden would move ... Read More
U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More
U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More
Elections

Is the Biden Campaign Struggling?

On the menu today: a long, long list of Democrats warning that the Biden campaign may not be as strong as it looks in key states and among key demographics; another former White House staffer comes out and denounces the president, offering a hard lesson about how personnel is policy; and a long look at the ... Read More
Elections

Is the Biden Campaign Struggling?

On the menu today: a long, long list of Democrats warning that the Biden campaign may not be as strong as it looks in key states and among key demographics; another former White House staffer comes out and denounces the president, offering a hard lesson about how personnel is policy; and a long look at the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Enough of ‘Orange Man Bad’

The Trump era has brought its own unique vocabulary: Never Trump, anti-anti-Trump, Deep State, QAnon, “The Resistance,” Podbros, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and of course, MAGA, to name just a few. But by far the most useless phrase to emerge over the last few years is “Orange Man Bad.” If you follow ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Enough of ‘Orange Man Bad’

The Trump era has brought its own unique vocabulary: Never Trump, anti-anti-Trump, Deep State, QAnon, “The Resistance,” Podbros, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and of course, MAGA, to name just a few. But by far the most useless phrase to emerge over the last few years is “Orange Man Bad.” If you follow ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More