For journalists like UConn professor Mike Stanton, tyranny is the first choice.

Attitudes like this, from former Providence Journal reporter and University of Connecticut journalism professor Mike Stanton fascinate me.  Commenting on Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee’s hesitance to impose a statewide mask mandate, Stanton writes:

Yes, poor leadership. Because it’s contrary to what the doctors & experts recommend.
I went to PPAC the other night; they required masks.
I went to a college basketball game Sunday; they required masks.
What do they know that the governor doesn’t?

A political science class could make an entire project out of dissecting these sentences.  What is one to make of the assumption that leadership means doing whatever “the doctors & experts recommend”?  That’s a very Rhode Island attitude right there.  Many in the Ocean State actually do believe representation — whether of a group of voters or a group of stakeholders, like small businesses, for example — means being the one who convinces the people that they should go along with the conclusions of the powerful.

Some of us think representation ought to go the other way.  In that view, leadership would be something more like:  “Despite what the self-reinforcing ‘experts’ say, the people I represent don’t want this or think they need it, and as the one responsible for making the decision, the situation would have to be overwhelmingly dire to impose this on them.”

If I were to write a paper on Stanton’s tweet, however, my area of focus would be on the nature of his evidence.  He doesn’t testify that he went to public places only to see sick people coughing on each other in close quarters.  No, he went to two places where people were gathered in large numbers inside and the were wearing masks without the government requiring it.

This is exactly in line with my political spectrum design (reproduced in the featured image of this post).  To folks like Stanton, government ought to be the repository of truth and morality, putting him on the Left side of the spectrum..  Private organizations’ imposing mask mandates doesn’t prove that our society is managing the disease organically, with a balance that accommodates group interests with individual freedom.  Rather, it proves that masking in public is good and right, which must therefore be reflected in the law, whether by statute or decree.

Furthermore, his trust in the ability of “experts” to contrive a policy that suits the needs of millions of people suggests a belief in human perfectibility, otherwise he might hesitate to proclaim it obvious that the governor should impose a blanket mandate with the stroke of a pen.  Thus, with no surprise, we can confidently label Stanton as a “progressive.”

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