Last Updated on September 12, 2022
Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, who is currently running as the Democrat nominee for Senate in the state, mocked business owners as “selfish” after pandemic lockdowns were lifted. On the show Real Talk with Henry Sanders Madison365 in 2021, Barnes said business owners who wished to remain open during the pandemic were “selfish” because they were not thinking of “the larger group.”
“I shared this on Twitter… where someone took a picture of the protesters who was outside of the governor’s mansion. And it said, ‘Open my business.’ And they had a sign that said, ‘My business matters.’ The most important thing about the scene is the word ‘my — my, my, my,’” Barnes said, recalling a protest from 2020.
“That’s what I’ve been saying all along. Too many people are being selfish, where it is just, ‘my — my business.’ Not ‘your life,’ not ‘my neighbor’s life,’ but ‘my business’ and ‘how are you going to help me — me, me, me’ — instead of thinking about the larger group,” Barnes went on to say.
In May 2020, pro-lockdown Wisconsin Democrat Senate candidate Mandela Barnes MOCKED small business owners as “selfish” — just for being concerned about their businesses pic.twitter.com/PIkTva17pn
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 7, 2022
According to a survey conducted by Wisconsin’s chamber of commerce, nearly two-thirds of the state’s businesses were negatively affected by pandemic lockdowns. “Government-mandated lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic devastated Wisconsin businesses, forcing many to cut costs and reduce staff,” Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) President Kurt Bauer said in a news release last July.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, ordered “non-essential” businesses to close on March 23, 2021. Some level of restrictions remained in several municipalities for over a year, even as case rates declined. More than half of Wisconsin businesses reported that they reduced staff during that period.
Restaurants were particularly hard hit by pandemic lockdowns. In Wisconsin, 10% of restaurants had already been permanently shuttered as of October 2020. One in three restaurant employees had already been laid off as of that time, according to Wisconsin Restaurant Association president Susan Quam.
Overall, sales were down 30% between January 2020 and January 2021, according to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association.
Mandela Barnes appears to believe that showing concern about devastating economic effects of lockdowns is a “selfish” act, however.
In addition to his pro-lockdown stances, Mandela Barnes is campaigning as one of the more radical Democrats up for election in November. He has advocated for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), permitting driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, giving in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants, and defunding “over-bloated” police departments, Breitbart News reported. He is also a proponent of expanding the Supreme Court and doing away with the Senate filibuster.
Barnes has received endorsements from Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Despite this, he prefers not to refer to himself as a “progressive” in order to “appear less polarizing” in his race against Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), New York magazine reported.