So your governor just broke his own COVID safety guidelines — that just means we need to do better than him

Courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr

California Governor Gavin Newsom got himself into hot water when he was spotted at a maskless party in Napa Valley on Nov. 18, despite indoor dining being prohibited. Even in the strange environment that the coronavirus has created, this would not be a completely uncommon sight; after all, plenty of people have continued to attend small events with and without masks throughout the pandemic. What makes this instance so unusual is that the governor was going against his own strict guidelines for coronavirus safety. Not only that, but he lied about the party being outside until photos proved this to be false. People, understandably, were taken aback by this, and many are using it as a chance to discredit the governor and his guidelines. What really needs to occur instead is that the California public should learn a lesson from Newsom disobeying his own rules and, though their skepticism is valid, work to do better than Newsom did.

First order of business: Newsom absolutely should be shamed for his breach of his own policy. Though he promised to start practicing what he preaches, an apology means nothing if it is not backed by effort. The best course of action would be to subject Newsom to fines for attending a gathering that was fairly risky, considering others would have been fined for doing the same. It is important to recognize that the governor of California is not above anyone else when it comes to responsibility for curbing the pandemic.

This goes for every public official who makes guidelines and then proceeds to breach them. Andrew Cuomo was called out this week for planning on seeing his mother for Thanksgiving after advising New Yorkers to not travel for the holidays. Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi canceled a dinner for new House of Representatives members because it would be held in a poorly ventilated space. People are rightfully calling out the disobedience of strict COVID guidelines, and they should be — it holds these public officials accountable and allows us to use them as an example to improve ourselves.

An even better way to shame the governor for his reckless behavior, however, would be for us as a population to do better than him. Yes, it is understandable to cast some doubt towards his rulings, especially with his infamous “no singing” guideline and now this breach. He rightfully should be given the side-eye for his wrongdoings. Nonetheless, we should continue to follow the guidelines put in place to prove that we can, since he could not. Moving forward, if we want to go out, we need to do it safely, and if we want to meet with others, we do it while following distancing guidelines. We need to make it our job, as citizens of California, to do better than our governor at following his own rules. By all means, question Newsom’s morals and meanings, especially given the lavish lifestyle he leads, but in the name of public safety, let’s do better than public officials and beat them at their own game.