Jesus, How Hard Is It For Democrats To Keep Their Masks On In Photos?

State/Local Politics
Jesus, How Hard Is It For Democrats To Keep Their Masks On In Photos?

Last week, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who’s running for governor in Georgia, visited the Glennwood Elementary School in Decatur. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and the school's principal, Holly Brookins, tweeted photos of Abrams with some schoolchildren. She wrote: "Extraordinary way to kick off the 3rd Annual African-American Read-In at Glennwood and Black History Month. Thrilled to host @staceyabrams author of Stacey's Extraordinary Words!”

Brookins didn’t notice a major problem with the photos she’d shared, nor did Abrams herself, who quote-tweeted them. The children were all wearing masks, as per the school’s mask mandate, but Abrams was not. The City of Decatur reinstated its mandatory mask policy last month, and the board of education for Decatur City Schools approved a mask mandate extension through February 22.

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Republicans quickly seized on the situation. Not long had passed before David Perdue, who’s primarying Gov. Brian Kemp, had one of the photos featured as his Twitter header image. Perdue is evil but his social media team is solid.


Abrams deleted her tweet with the photos, and Brookins apparently went scorched earth and deactivated her entire account. That doesn’t matter much because these photos are everywhere and will likely appear in GOP attack ads that are unrelated to this race. Fox News is already making a big fuss. Fortunately, the kids in the photo are masked.

The Abrams campaign tried to shift the discussion back to how much her GOP opponents suck.

"It is shameful that our opponents are using a Black History Month reading event for Georgia children as the impetus for a false political attack, and it is pitiful and predictable that our opponents continue to look for opportunities to distract from their failed records when it comes to protecting public health during the pandemic," the campaign's statement said.

Unfortunately, this technically isn’t a false political attack. Abrams willingly posed maskless for the photo and even shared them on Twitter, as if unaware of the inevitable backlash. Although most parents support school mask mandates, they are probably not thrilled to see anyone violating them. And, unlike eating and drinking, posing for photos is not a permitted exception.

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Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams's campaign manager, tweeted Sunday:

Stacey trusts science and supports masking in schools as it's the current CDC recommendation. She wore a mask to the event, and removed it at the podium so she could be heard by students watching remotely and for photos, but only with folks who were masked.

This isn’t a great response, either. People opposed to school mask mandates frequently claim it’s hard for teachers and students to hear and understand each other while wearing masks. There’s really no reason that anyone visiting a school with a mask mandate shouldn’t wear a mask according to the school’s policy. The excuses don’t work and make easy fodder for Republicans who want to push a narrative that Democrats are imposing rules on average citizens that they can’t bother to follow themselves.

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Kemp predictably knocked Abrams for supporting school mask mandates yet unmasking during a “photo op.” Perdue’s campaign released a new ad Monday that’s just the photo with creepy music playing. You’d think Abrams’s middle name was Pennywise. The ad declares that “this is the Georgia Stacey Abrams wants” — you know, one where children are not sick or dead from COVID-19. It’s also “the reality Brian Kemp has allowed.” Kemp has fought mask mandates and claimed they don’t work at all. He sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over her mask mandate. It’s not clear how the governor could have a more COVID-friendly policy but Perdue seems up for the challenge.

Bakari Sellers said on CNN that anyone outraged over Abrams’s mask gaffe wasn’t going to vote for her anyway. I’m not sure that’s true, and the results in Virginia demonstrate the risk of past Democratic voters flipping or returning to the GOP. So, Democrats, pretty please with sugar on top, wear your fucking masks in public. The assholes are always watching.


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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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