The Real Problem With Trump and Masks

At the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court, practically everyone was maskless.Gripas Yuri/POOL via ZUMA

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I know this is obvious, but the lesson of Donald Trump’s infection is not that it’s a result of him refusing to wear a mask. It’s a result of him insisting that everyone around him not wear a mask.

This is the problem the nation faces with Trump’s politicization of masks: your personal safety doesn’t depend very much on wearing a mask. What matters is whether everyone else is wearing a mask—“herd mentality,” you might call it. In Trump country, where lots of people spurn the whole idea of masks, you’re going to be unsafe regardless of what precautions you take. In the case of Trump gatherings, where everyone gleefully goes unmasked in order to own the libs and provide the optics Trump wants, you’re unsafe even if you buck the trend and wear a mask yourself. Ditto for the floor of the Senate. Or the House.

At Trump events, it’s considered de rigueur to go maskless. Don’t want to upset Donald, after all. So naturally everyone was maskless at Trump’s announcement event for Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The result so far? Sen. Mike Lee is now positive for coronavirus. Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins is positive for coronavirus. RNC chair Ronna McDaniel wasn’t there, but she’s around the president and his staff all the time. Now they all have COVID-19 and more are sure to follow.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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