Should Americans Consider Face Masks When Voting For A Political Candidate? DMT.NEWS - DMT NEWS

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Should Americans Consider Face Masks When Voting For A Political Candidate? DMT.NEWS

As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths surge across the United States, some are starting to ask if Americans should consider face masks when voting for a political candidate. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, for example, just announced if elected president, he would make wearing a face-covering in public compulsory. (1) President Donald Trump, however, insists that wearing masks should be voluntary and people should be “free” to choose. Whatever one thinks, politicizing face masks has caused an even greater and sometimes violent, partisan divide.

The Politics of Public Health and Dark Triad Traits

Supporters of face masks say most doctors agree that wearing a mask decreases the chances of contracting the novel coronavirus since it infects your nose first, using it as an entry point to the rest of your body and as a mucousy hotspot for rapid replication. People who do not cover their nose with their mask risk exposing their own infectious organs to the disease and the organs of other people. “If the nose is the dominant initial site from which lung infections are seeded,” said Dr. Boucher, “then the widespread use of masks to protect the nasal passages are essential.” (2)

Others point to studies that looked at the relationship between personality traits and reactions to restrictions like wearing masks put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 agree. Psychologists found that people possessing so-called “Dark Triad” traits-narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism-were less likely to comply with restrictions or engage in preventative measures against the pandemic. The study did caution it was unsure how big of a role these personality traits played in facemask and social-distancing requirements. (3)

The studies, which surveyed more than a thousand people and used a “Health Belief Scale,” was titled, “Adaptive and Maladaptive Behavior During the COVID-19 Pandemic. People’s perception regarding the severity of, and their susceptibility to, COVID-19 were measured. Respondents demonstrating Dark Triad traits-so-called because of their malevolent (or “dark”) qualities correlate with more crime, less compassion and dangerous leadership qualities-were more likely to hoard and less likely to take preventive measures. They had a little conscience and were incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves.

People with Dark Triad traits moreover believed less in the efficacy and consequences of their own actions, qualities that explained their reluctance to take preventive measures like frequent hand washing, wearing facemasks, and limiting non-necessary trips outside the home. Respondents with Dark Triad personality traits were more impulsive, short-sighted, competitive, and willing to take risks without thinking of other individuals. Dark Triad traits have even been linked to bad health outcomes, including cognitive decline and shorter life expectancy.

Another aspect of the two studies is how they validated inferences from Dark Triad traits-such as the hypothesis that Machiavellianism and its power-seeking cynicism may lead to rejection of government coronavirus restrictions as a challenge to the individual’s illusion of power and sense of reality. People’s individual understanding of the pandemic’s reality outside of themselves was by far less meaningful than the personality traits they already possessed. In other words, they suffered from solipsism, the view that the self and one’s own existence is all that can be known.

The Politics of Freedom and Herd Immunity

Opponents to wearing masks, like President Trump or Senator Rand Paul and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, usually cite the U.S. Constitution. “This has to be voluntary because the Constitution is not suspended just because there is a virus,” said Gov. DeSantis at a news conference. “You do have a right to protest, you have a right to go to religious service, all these other things.” Asked about the spike of coronavirus deaths in his state, Gov. DeSantis attributed it to increased testing and migrant workers that live and work in cramped conditions. (4)

Sen. Paul, the only senator known to have contracted COVID-19, defended his decision not to wear a mask, citing his “immunity” to a disease. “I can’t get it again, nor can I transmit,” said Sen. Paul. He also questioned the claims the CDC has made about the coronavirus. (5) Others believe the virus is a hoax or that Americans should strive towards “herd immunity.” Herd immunity happens when enough people have developed immunity to an infectious disease that the risk of further community transmission is either eliminated or significantly reduced.

Similar to herd immunity is the argument about how important the economy is compared to the death toll from the virus. “No one wants to reopen America more than President Donald Trump, and I think the American people have known that from weeks ago when the president declared that important balance: We have to make sure the cure isn’t worse than the disease,” said Vice President Pence in April. He went on to say the sacrifices would “literally save lives.” (6) Critics say it is all about getting reelected since the economy was one thing they were banking on.

Other opponents to face masks warn that the new state mandates and lockdowns are an excuse to violate civil liberties. Claiming that today’s emergency measures could become tomorrow’s trampling of free speech, they argue face covering is not only a symbol of silencing free speech and public discourse but of growing encroachment of policing and shaming. Indeed, many have expressed isolation and being publicly shamed for not wearing a face mask. They caution that while extreme measures may now seem warranted and urgent to help halt the contagion, a series of trends pose serious risks for open expression long after the virus disappears. (8)

Facemasks have become so politicized that people have been killed over them and judges are ordering political leaders to enter mediation. (8) In Georgia, where a security guard was just killed for asking a customer to wear a facemask, Republican Gov. Brain Kamp and Atlanta’s Democratic Mayor Keisha Bottoms were ordered to resolve the dispute over the governor’s lawsuit aimed at stopping the city from enforcing its requirement that people wear masks in public. (8) With 160,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,575 deaths, masks would decrease death by 3,000 through November 1.

Predisposed Perceptions and Most Solemn Trust

Considering face masks when voting for a political candidate also depends on how loyal a voter is to a candidate, their political party, and how they view COVID-19. To be sure, Republicans and Democrats increasingly view in starkly different ways, from the personal health risks arising from the coronavirus outbreak to their comfort in engaging in everyday activities. While Republicans believe the worst is behind them and the nation, Democrats do not. Republicans moreover are less likely to wear masks in public and flout social distancing rules than Democrats. (9) Perception, consequently, is reality, at least until one is stricken with the deadly virus.

During the American Revolution, Samuel Adams wrote, “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote…that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable…” As the U.S. faces another revolutionary crisis, a virus that has infected 5 million people and killed 175,000, it is clear the politics surrounding face masks reveals a great deal about a candidate-and voter. From a public health issue and dark triad traits to balancing liberty with responsibility towards the well-being of others, it will be up to each voter to decide if masks should be considered when executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society.

Dallas Darling (

(Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas' writings at and










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