You can’t ask people to follow you, if you aren’t willing to lead. That’s why it was so disappointing to see Vice President Mike Pence strolling through the Mayo Clinic sans face mask even though the administration’s own medical experts say Americans should wear masks in public and even though the Mayo Clinic has a policy requiring visitors to wear masks. The rules, apparently, don’t apply to Pence. In trying to explain himself, he claimed he wanted to be able to look medical professionals in the eye. Pence does not seem to understand how masks work. Or perhaps he doesn’t understand how eyes work. Maybe he’s not a real boy. Whatever it is, this statement does not inspire confidence.
My husband and I wear masks when we take the dog for a walk. We wear masks whenever we have to go to a store, something we do only every two weeks or so. Basically, we wear masks whenever we leave our property. I hate it. I feel claustrophobic with the mask across my mouth and nose. I often feel as if I’m hyperventilating. But I wear the mask because health expert say we need to do this to slow the spread of the virus. I wear it because I understand that even though I have no symptoms, I could be carrying the virus and I could pass it on to someone else. I wear it because it keeps me from touching my face after I’ve plucked a can of tomatoes from the shelf at the store. I hate it, but I wear it anyway.
Lots of people don’t bother. I get it. The recommendation to wear masks is just that—a recommendation. There’s no penalty for not wearing a mask, at least not in Colorado. And why should we wear masks if the people at our highest levels of government don’t? It’s natural to be suspicious of something that is prescribed for the masses, but not practiced by the people in charge. Fortunately, I’ve never had any respect for Mike Pence, so I’m not influenced by his actions. I’ll keep wearing a mask because it might help, and it certainly won’t hurt. The same cannot be said for refusing to wear a mask.
Some have speculated that Pence didn’t wear a mask, because he was afraid Trump wouldn’t like it. Trump famously said he would not wear a mask just moments after saying other people should, but Trump also suggested that injecting disinfectant might possibly cure the virus. Will Pence be first in line for that experiment too? Only a fool would take Trump’s lead. But Pence does seem to be following Trump— blindly, foolishly, and recklessly.
The Vice President should put on a mask because it’s the right thing to do. It’s not about whether he has the virus or not, it’s about setting a good example. His sad explanations for why he doesn’t put on a mask are an insult to our intelligence and a clear indication of his.