Gov. Mike Parson has made statements over the last couple of weeks that have me questioning his concern for the people of Missouri.

On May 27, the governor said that if a voter was not comfortable going to a voting station for the June 2 election, the voter should just stay home. That disenfranchised many older and high-risk Missourians.

On July 16, the governor mentioned on radio talk that Missouri is spending $15 million of its federal COVID-19 relief money to promote tourism in the state as the number of cases continues to rise.

We know about the fiasco in May at the crowded Lake of the Ozarks pool parties. We not only had a spike in virus cases after Memorial Day, but the contagion extended well outside state borders.

Inviting tourists to Missouri when the number of cases is breaking records is foolish.

On July 17, the governor was interviewed by Marc Cox on KFTK radio in St. Louis. About two minutes into the interview, Cox began talking about a youth sports complex, the POWERplex STL, that county commissioners wanted to close because of the pandemic. He asked Parson for his thoughts.

The governor told him: “These kids have got to get back to school. They’re at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will, and they will when they go to school — they’re not going to the hospitals ... They’re not going to have to sit in doctor’s offices. They’re going to go home, and they’re going to get over it. We gotta move on. We can’t just let this thing stop us in our tracks.”

On July 20, the governor wanted to talk about the upcoming special session of the legislature and the violent crime we are seeing across our state. The issue of students going back to school came up again.

In response to a reporter’s question about the statement he made July 17, Parson said the quote was taken out of context.

“Sometimes you get attacked for a lot of things. There was one thing taken out of context I want to say over the weekend,” he said.

“Look, I care about kids — being a grandparent — about going to school. The reality is when I say this virus will be in our school system, somebody acts like I don’t care about that. I care deeply about that, but it is very important as a public official that you speak the truth about that. That’s a real possibility.”

I listened to Parson’s original statement on KFTK four or five times. It was not taken out of context.

His response July 20 was not a denial but an excuse. He was trying to talk his way out of an uncomfortable situation he started.

As of Friday in Missouri, over 4,100 cases of COVID-19 belong to people under the age of 20. About 34% of the population under 25 has been infected.

Contrary to some misinformation on the Internet, those under 30 who are asymptomatic can and do spread the disease. Children can also spread the disease to their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors.

From just these four separate statements, it appears the governor is putting the citizens of Missouri below a win in the November election.

This is similar to the tactic being used by the president in his new “law and order” campaign.

It is the same attitude that extends absentee and mail-in ballots only to high risk citizens instead of making them available to everyone.

If the governor truly cares about his constituents, he would announce a statewide order to wear masks, encourage unrestricted voting by mail and provide statewide guidance for reopening schools and universities.

He would provide concrete plans to increase the number of testing stations and discourage tourism that will further spread COVID-19.

We must vote Parson out of office in November. The governor’s race is not a shoe-in. The latest polls have the race neck-and-neck, within the margin of error.

We need a governor and president who care about the health of the population, not who take a cavalier attitude toward the people they serve.

David Rosman is an editor, writer and professional speaker. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and InkandVoice.com.


About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

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