• 77°

Editorial: Polarization reaches new depths in gubernatorial race

It’s a strange world when two candidates for the same office post identical graphics to make a political point, but it’s exactly the one we find ourselves in.

Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper’s social media campaign accounts posted a graphic that included a quote from Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in which the Republican said, “I would lift the mask mandate for the state.” The words “lift the mask mandate” are colored in red on the Facebook version while all of the text is white on Twitter. A  black and white photo of Forest accompanies the quote on both.

On both Facebook and Twitter, Cooper, the Democratic incumbent, posted the graphic first. With it, Cooper said, “Dan Forest would set us back in the fight against COVID-19.”

Forest’s team appears to have simply copied and pasted the graphic onto his social media accounts minutes later as if to say “Yes, that’s correct.”

In both cases, Forest’s posts got more “likes” and “loves.”

It’s hard to think of an example to better show how polarized the country has become. That is, the gap in political attitudes between left- and right-leaning voters has grown so large that the same quotes inspire opposite opinions and action.

Cooper’s likely intent was to show Forest would endanger the moderate COVID-19 outbreak North Carolina has seen.

By copying and pasting the same graphic, Forest thumbed his nose at the fact that masks are one part of preventing a worsened outbreak. Forest says he prefers to put his faith in personal responsibility and the government trusting people and businesses to do what’s best.

Maybe there’s a point in the near future at which the state can lift its mask mandate and trust individuals to do the right thing. Already, enforcement mechanisms for the mandate do not involve criminal penalties and law enforcement has made it clear they do not intend to penalize businesses with fines unless there are egregious examples.

But that time isn’t now.  The country is still in the middle of the pandemic, and wearing masks is one part of a trio of things the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to mitigate coronavirus spread. Lifting the mandate entirely sends the wrong message about the state of the outbreak.

“Wearing masks can help communities slow the spread of COVID-19 when worn consistently and correctly by a majority of people in public settings and when masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing and cleaning and disinfecting,” the CDC says.

Yes, there are many other issues about which Forest and Cooper should be talking — budget priorities, health care, education and strategies for business growth.

But COVID-19 is top-of-mind for voters as well as candidates, and it’s something with which every voter has a personal experience. For some, it’s as simple as having to wear a mask and change daily habits. For others, it means family members and friends dying, shuttering their businesses or losing their jobs. So, as long as it continues to infect, hospitalize and kill people as well as result in negative economic effects, it will remain at or near the top of the debate between the two candidates. Make no mistake, coronavirus will be an issue on which many voters will base their final decision this year.

Comments

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers

Education

Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners

Business

Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs

Columns

Amy-Lynn Albertson: Arts and Ag Farm Tour set for June 5

High School

High school baseball: Mustangs top Falcons on strength of hurlers

Business

Biz Roundup: Application process now open for Rowan Chamber’s 29th Leadership Rowan class

Sports

Keith Mitchell leads McIlroy, Woodland by 2 at Quail Hollow

Nation/World

States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

Nation/World

Major US pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack

News

NC budget dance slowed as GOP leaders differ on bottom line

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting