EDITORIAL: Ignore Mike Jones

The Dispatch Editorial Board

Rep. Mike Jones appears more interested in boosting his own right wing credentials than serving constituents.

Jones, R-York Township, responded this past week in perhaps the least responsible way possible to Gov. Tom Wolf's announcement that masks would be mandatory in most instances when Pennsylvanians leave their homes.

Jones took to Facebook and ranted, "Ignore the order if you choose to. This is not a Dictatorship." 

Now, this came as no surprise to anyone paying attention. Jones has weaponized the COVID-19 pandemic and employed it for his own political self interest.

This is the guy, after all, who threw a fit about Wolf's lockdown order and urged restaurants to flout it.

In some regards, Jones' posturing has worked. There can be no doubt that his stock has risen among the state's right wing, those who see any government involvement as a sign of impending constitutional collapse.

But Jones has consistently sacrificed the safety of the very people he's elected to serve in an apparent effort to boost his political prospects. His rejection of the mask order is an attack on public health itself. So, too, was his hyperbolic tirade about Wolf's shutdown order, which didn't end after both the state and U.S. supreme courts determined the governor had acted within his power.

More:Jones on masks: 'Ignore the order if you choose to'

More:Wolf's mask order inflames partisan fight over virus

More:Now it's an order: Masks required when leaving home in Pa.

State Rep. Mike Jones (R-York Township) is joined by restaurant owners discuss safe business practices to be put into place for dine-in service during a demonstration at The Paddock on Market in Springettsbury Township, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Rep. Jones is one of the leaders of the ReopenYorkPA movement. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Masks are a necessary component if the coronavirus is going to be brought under control. The evidence is insurmountable at this point. One must only look at what's happening in the Sun Belt to reach that conclusion.

Even Jones admitted it, saying he's not an "anti-masker," while castigating government's involvement. Yet, this is the same guy who blasted state epidemiologists because their advice didn't fit his narrative. 

The coronvirus is a disaster on countless levels. More than 100,000 Americans have died. Millions are sick. Millions more are out of work. And the federal government's response has been absolutely rudderless, thanks to the very same laissez faire approach that Jones so actively touts.

The only way out of this is an active, coordinated response. It's times such as this that are the very reasons for the existence of government in the first place.

Jones' is a framework that rejects the very essence of government. It's an approach that ultimately will prolong the pandemic. It will cost more lives. It will cost more jobs. It will damage the very businesses to which Jones claims to be an ally.

The coronavirus pandemic is a moment for real, fact-based action. 

And yet, politicians such as Jones see it merely as an opportunity to boost their brand.