On Friday, writing for The Atlantic, columnist David Graham criticized Republicans for rejecting their party's central principle of "freedom" to crack down on businesses that make personal decisions to impose science-based restrictions for COVID-19.
One of the key governors pushing this contradiction, noted Graham, is Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX).
"The pandemic has given Abbott new avenues to push for freedoms. Abbott has, for example, barred state agencies and organizations that receive state funding from requiring vaccines for consumers," wrote Graham. "The public-health wisdom of this position is dubious, but it is consistent with the idea of limiting government restraints. What's confusing is a bill that Abbott signed in June, which bans businesses from requiring customers to be vaccinated. With rising concern about, and case counts from, the Delta variant, the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission issued a warning on August 12 declaring that restaurants and bars that ask customers to show proof of vaccination might have their liquor licenses revoked."
Many Republicans have of course chosen to focus on restricting local governments from imposing mandates, like Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) threatening to strip pay from superintendents who impose mask mandates, and Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) trying to offer incentives to schools to not require masks in a possibly unlawful scheme. But Abbott's move is something altogether different, wrote Graham.
"Seeing punitively hard-line conservative governments leap to place restrictions on businesses — especially regarding a question so fundamental as the health of entrepreneurs and their employees — could very well make business interests question the strength of their long-standing alliance with Republicans," wrote Graham. "Put differently, in the new paradigm, businesses might be sorted by their COVID-19 politics, not by the mere fact of being a business."
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