Kristi Noem leans into her people-can-choose-to-die-if-they-want-to 2024 messaging

July 12, 2021 ☼ desantisnoempandemicelection-2024

Source: The Washington Post - Link

Two different Republican governors with obvious designs on the 2024 presidential primary are leveraging their response to the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to bolster their conservative credentials.

One, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has successfully parlayed his balance of loose pandemic restrictions with Fox-News-friendly culture fights to consistently lead in (very) early primary polling, at least when former president Donald Trump isn’t included in the mix. The other, South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem, has attempted the same dance but without the same result.

That may be in part because she represents a small state with limited opportunities for national attention. It may also be that her state handled the pandemic particularly poorly, at least when measured on the metric of “not having people die.”

What’s fascinating about this argument is that it’s actually immune to a seemingly challenging response — um, but a lot of people died — using a straightforward rhetorical trick: pinning those deaths on the personal choices of the dead. It’s like making driving under the influence legal and booze free, and touting how much confidence you put in the public to manage their own affairs. Except, of course, that a lot of people killed in the resulting car accidents might be dying from the personal decisions of others, just as many of those infected with the coronavirus in her state were probably infected while the pandemic was raging despite their own efforts not to be.

Giving people the freedom to die would be fine, if it were just the people making the decision, but they are going to take a bunch of other vulnerable people with them.