• Nathan Max

Governors Providing Poor Leadership

Photo Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/AP. California Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a large gathering in violation of his own rules.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was pulling the “emergency brake” on Monday, throwing 94 percent of his state back into lockdown.

Ten days earlier, he violated the very rules he is imposing on the rest of us when he attended a birthday party for a political advisor at a fancy French restaurant. In other words, “do as I say, not as I do.”

How can Newsom, a Democrat, expect his residents to listen if he isn’t leading by example? It is just one of many instances of poor leadership that governors from both political parties have demonstrated throughout the pandemic.

To be clear, the all-star roster of irresponsibility is staffed exclusively by Republicans. If one didn’t know any better, you might think Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Georgia’s Brian Kemp, South Dakota’s Kristi Noem and Texas’s Greg Abbott were openly competing to see who could kill off more of their residents. Their insanity has been well documented.

If the scientific community delivers a recommendation, these four governors will go in the opposite direction. If public-health officials are for it, these four are against it. Every time. Their philosophy can best be summarized as: “we support our residents’ freedom.” And, by that, they mean the freedom to infect themselves and everyone around them.

Many Republican governors across the nation have rejected mask mandates, kept indoor gyms, bars and restaurants open and made it extra difficult for their residents to safely vote by mail. Now, the virus has spiraled out of control, particularly in states run by the GOP.

Not all Republican governors have been so bad. Maryland’s Larry Hogan and Ohio’s Mike DeWine have been singled out as exceptions. And some of the most celebrated Democratic governors have also failed at points. New York’s Andrew Cuomo refused to lock down his state in early March, and his initial hesitation cost many residents their lives.

In California, Newsom’s birthday-party gaffe -- which, to his credit, he has apologized for -- was strikingly similar to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s ill-fated trip to the hair salon. You can’t have the moral authority to tell people what to do if the rules don’t apply to you.

Newsom has been praised for being one of the nation’s more responsible governors, and he has been terrific compared to the aforementioned fearsome foursome. But his leadership has been a mixed bag at best.

In late May, like others across the nation, Newsom prematurely gave in to the state’s most extreme elements who wanted society reopened immediately. As a result, the virus spiked over the summer.

Now, the state has implemented a complicated color-coded tier system, in which certain counties have different restrictions based on certain factors. As of this week, virtually the entire state had entered the most restrictive category.

At this point, why not just shut the entire state down? The 6 percent that isn’t restricted almost certainly will be soon. Shutting everything down now will save lives.

This middle-of-the-road approach doesn’t work. Newsom has managed to infuriate those on the right who think his restrictions are destroying the economy, and he is angering those on the left who don’t think he’s doing enough.

The first rule of virus economics is the economy won’t fully recover until you get the virus under control. Enough with the half measures. America’s governors need to start being real leaders, take control and do what needs to be done. That means mask mandates, lockdowns and temporarily shuttering non-essential businesses.

Being a true leader means making difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions. This is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, and it is getting worse.

Many people won’t like the restrictions. Fine. It’s their right to be angry.

Better they be angry than dead.