• 41°

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

Local

Human Relations Council honors Martin Luther King Jr. with modified fair

Local

Local lawmakers talk priorities for 2020-21 legislative session

Business

From a home office to a global company, Integro Technologies celebrates 20th anniversary

Lifestyle

‘Quarantine Diaries’ — Jeanie Moore publishes book as ‘foundation of stories for my family’

Business

‘It pays for itself:’ Study shows economic impact of Mid-Carolina Regional Airport

News

Gov. Cooper sending another 100 National Guard members to Washington

Local

Rowan County set rainfall record in 2020

News

Former, current congressmen for Rowan County opposed second impeachment

Business

Biz Roundup: Chamber prepares for January Power in Partnership program

Education

Essie Mae holding COVID-19 testing Monday, recognizes honor Roll

Local

County will have hearing on new ordinance about feeding large animal carcasses to domestic animals

Business

Complaints to BBB up 36% in 2020

Nation/World

Some in GOP talk of chance for coming civil war

Nation/World

More National Guard troops pour into Washington

Kannapolis

Kannapolis native Corey Seager agrees to $13.75 million deal with Dodgers

Nation/World

NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

Local

Pedestrian safety among concerns in latest public input for Downtown Main Street plan

Kannapolis

Kannapolis resident Dorothy Schmidt Cole was oldest Marine when she died at 107

Coronavirus

UPDATED: County reports 27 COVID-19 deaths this week

Crime

Search warrant produces half-dozen drug charges for Salisbury man

Crime

Crime blotter: Jan. 15

Nation/World

National Guard troops move in as Washington locks down

Nation/World

Biden unveils $1.9 trillion plan to stem virus and steady economy

Business

Paycheck Protection Program opens for community banks, larger lenders next week