Talk about the D.C. Swamp: Mere days after issuing a revised order regarding quarantines after travel to coronavirus “hot spots,” the mayor of the nation’s capital openly ignored the rules she established.
While many will decry Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) for violating the travel restrictions, they shouldn’t feel surprised by her double standards. After all, Bowser and the Washington City Council have compelled D.C. residents with incomes far smaller than theirs to buy expensive Obamacare insurance plans, while remaining on cushy taxpayer-funded coverage themselves.
‘Essential’ Travel—To a Political Rally
On Monday afternoon, a reporter from NBC’s Washington affiliate noted that Bowser and her staff attended former Vice President Joe Biden’s political rally on Saturday:
Dc @MayorBowser & staff attended @JoeBiden victory speech in Wilmington, DE Saturday. Delaware on the Mayor’s list of “High Risk” states which would require quarantine after returning. Bowser staff says the trip was “essential travel” exempted under Mayor’s order. @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/GOAdajeENp
— Mark Segraves (@SegravesNBC4) November 9, 2020
Last week, Bowser’s office had released an updated list of states from which individuals traveling to Washington should “self-quarantine for 14 days from their arrival in the District.” The list included Delaware, site of Biden’s Wilmington rally.
Through her chief of staff, Bowser claimed the trip constituted “essential travel,” which therefore exempted her and her staff from her own quarantine order. The mayor and her staff reportedly met with Symone Sanders, an adviser from the Biden campaign.
Bowser is not the only Democrat politician to ignore lockdown rules she imposes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously got her hair done while hairdressers in her district are banned from operating. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also got her hair done at a salon despite having banned salons from operating, justifying it by saying she needed to look good on TV to do her job: “I’m the public face of this city. I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed mask mandates but went out on the town without wearing a mask himself. The husband of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ignored her shutdown orders to launch a boat on Memorial Day weekend. There are many more such examples of COVID hypocrisy.
Repeated Rank Hypocrisy
Like other Americans who have no special political powers, I had a far different travel-related experience, on Saturday. That evening, I called and told my mother I likely could not travel home for Thanksgiving, due to the quarantine restrictions imposed by the District. When I traveled back to Pennsylvania to visit her in July, I voluntarily self-isolated prior to my trip, to reduce the chances I would infect my mother, who turns 80 next year and has several medical conditions.
I explained to my mother that, if I chose to visit at both Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would essentially spend the next two months in quarantine: Two weeks of self-isolation prior to Thanksgiving, two weeks of quarantine afterwards, immediately followed by another two weeks of self-isolation and quarantine before and after my Christmas visit. We both agreed that, given those circumstances, it seemed most prudent to skip the Thanksgiving trip, and hope that conditions would permit a visit at Christmas.
I stand by that decision as in the best interests of my mother’s health, but not because of Bowser’s actions, despite them. At a time coronavirus cases continue to rise nationwide, Bowser set a horrible example for Washington residents and visitors. I doubt very seriously that the meeting in question—with a political adviser, remember—included information so important or confidential that it could not take place over the phone, or via Zoom or other online methods.
Instead, Bowser just didn’t feel like obeying her own advice, so she concocted a cover story to justify an exemption. Bowser similarly looked the other way when people violated social distancing protocols to rally in the streets of Washington Saturday, after the major networks called the presidential election for Biden.
At a press conference Tuesday, held during what should have been her quarantine period, Bowser dispensed with the charades and made her L’etat c’est moi attitude more explicit. “I do a lot of things to advance the interests of the District of Columbia. And some of them are formal, and some of them are informal, but all of them are necessary” (emphasis mine). In other words, everything she does—even a trip to Disney World— has become “essential,” permitting her to flout the travel restrictions at will.
‘Obamacare for Thee, But Not for Me!’
Sadly, this behavior lines up perfectly with the prior behavior of Bowser and her D.C. Council colleagues. Two years ago, I profiled how Bowser and the council reimposed Obamacare’s mandate to purchase coverage in the District, complete with the possibility of seizing people’s homes and property if they did not comply.
Bowser and members of the council require individuals, on pain of taxation, to purchase coverage even if they do not qualify for subsidized insurance. Under Obamacare, individuals with incomes over 400 percent of the poverty level—just under $50,000 for an individual this year—do not qualify for subsidies, and therefore have to pay the full premium costs themselves.
Yet Bowser, who makes $200,000 per year, and her D.C. Council colleagues, have received half a million dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies for their insurance coverage. Why should Bowser require people earning $50,000 to pay for an unsubsidized insurance policy while she makes four times as much and refuses to do so herself? When asked this question, she didn’t have a very good response:
Out of Touch Elitism
Elsewhere in the nation’s capital, House Democrats continue to argue amongst themselves about why they did so poorly in last week’s elections. If they want part of the answer, they needn’t look far. Out of touch Democrat elites like Bowser—who impose restrictions they have no intention of complying with—provide one major reason for conservatives’ stronger-than-expected results.