Meltdown at CPAC as Conservatives Struggle to Reconcile Property Rights With Mask Mandates

“I wear a mask when I’m in the halls, and we’re gonna comply with their rules.”

Politico’s Quint Forgey, who reported this vignette and posted the relevant video from the CPAC conference, noted some tension between Schneider and Patrick’s message and that of Florida Gov. (and TNR’s Scoundrel of the Year) Ron DeSantis, who earlier that morning greeted conference participants by saying, “Welcome to our oasis of freedom! We are an oasis of freedom in a nation that’s suffering, in many parts of the country, under the yoke of oppressive lockdowns…. Florida got it right and the lockdown states got it wrong.”

As governor, DeSantis refuses to impose a statewide order requiring the wearing of masks in public. That distinguishes Florida from 35 other states that require it, including many very conservative ones like Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming. But Orlando, where the CPAC conference is taking place, is situated in Orange County, which operates under an emergency executive order issued June 24 that requires that “every person working, living, visiting, or doing business … wear a Face Covering consistent with the current CDC guideline while in a place that is open to the public, whether indoors or outdoors.”

In urging the CPAC crowd to wear masks, Schneider and Patrick made brief reference to another embattled conservative ideal in the Trump era: the rule of law. “We conservatives believe in the rule of law,” Schneider said. “We need to comply with the laws of this county that we’re in.” Patrick’s confusing reference to “the ordinances that they have as their private property” sounds like an invocation of the rule of law that she abruptly transformed mid-sentence to an appeal to private property rights. Perhaps the reason these rule-of-law refrains were so halfhearted was that the whole notion may not have survived the 2020 election results and the Capitol Hill putsch of January 6.

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