State lawmakers assembled this week in Oklahoma City in preparation of the legislative session that begins the first week of February. 

They have plenty of important issues to address this year as the novel coronavirus continues to claim the lives of Oklahomans in record numbers and fill hospitals. It is unfortunate that more than 25% thumbed their noses at public health mandates they imposed. 

A Republican legislative mandate requires all individuals wear facial coverings while inside the state Capitol, covering mouths and noses at all times. Nearly a third of those on the floor of the House chamber disregarded the mandate, and about a quarter of those in the state Senate ignored it.

Some of the lawmakers flouted on the floor of the legislative chambers rules that were strictly enforced against visitors in the galleries. Their disregard for rules and inequality of enforcement exemplifies the problems that have produced unrest and division. 

When the rule of law and equal protection of the law cease to exist, society begins to fracture. The world witnessed that Wednesday as a mob summoned to Washington by President Donald Trump and incited to act seized control of the U.S. Capitol. 

The world has watched as the United States stumbled, and then fell, this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted a price would be paid for the political ploy staged on Capitol Hill, and the cost was exacted within minutes. 

It is difficult to claim the mantle of freedom and democracy when those who make and enforce laws ignore them. Reclaiming America's place on the global stage will require leaders who not only respect the rule of law, but abide by it as well. 

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