The American colonists went to war against Great Britain over tyranny. Americans today are again fighting tyranny in their state governments. The coronavirus invaded American shores and caused all kinds of problems while we searched for solutions to it. One of the problems was Americans voluntarily staying in their homes to “flatten the curve” so that medical facilities were not overwhelmed.
The lockdown itself was not a bad thing because it met the goal of flatting the curve, and it was done for a good purpose. However, one result of the lockdown is a depressed economy. President Donald Trump recognized what was happening with the economy and tried to get the country opened again. He wanted it to be opened by Easter, but scientists convinced him that a longer lockdown was necessary.
Some states did not have lockdowns at all, and states with Republican governors began opening several weeks ago. Alaska was the first state to be fully open with several other states following close behind. Anchorage has a Democrat mayor who was slower to open the city than the rest of the state. Numerous states with Democrat governors are still under lockdown. You see, Democrats see that the lockdown hurts the economy, and they think that a damaged economy will improve their chances for the election in November.
Americans have voluntarily stayed in our homes and isolated ourselves to practice social distancing. We have been told to stay at least six feet away from anyone that does not live in our household. Alaskans were told to get out of their houses and enjoy this beautiful state. The only requirement was to social distance. We could go hiking, fishing, running, or whatever we chose to do outside if we kept a few feet between us and another household. There were no cops patrolling the neighborhoods to make sure that we were social distancing. We were treated like adults who could care for ourselves. We did, and we were the first state to open.
A few of the Democrat governors and/or became tyrants who inflicted tyranny on their residents. According to Jarrett Stepman, they set up “arbitrary and … absurd rules that do little more than aggravate citizens and almost nothing to stop the spread of the virus.” There are many different opinions about how to best battle COVID-19 and end the pandemic. However, it is one thing to have a different opinion and another thing be tyrannical.
Unlike Alaska, some states or local authorities decided that citizens could not be in their cars. “For instance, some Americans have been pulled over and ticketed for merely driving, hardly an activity that is likely to spread disease” (Stepman). A woman in Pennsylvania was received a $200 ticket for defying the governor’s statewide hunker down order and going for a drive. The district attorney was wise enough to drop the matter.
Going for a drive in her private car was a whole lot better than getting cabin fever. Therapists are reporting higher numbers of calls for mental illness since the lockdown. Private cars are better than riding mass transit systems too. There are reports that “states with a higher amount of mass transit generally have had a higher number of COVID-19 cases” (Stepman).
Local, state, and federal parks were shut down to stop people congregating in them. A local park near my daughter’s home in Texas closes its gates when a certain number of people enter the parking lot. The parking lot has been closed as early as 7:30 in the morning and remained closed for the rest of the day. The closure stopped the wear and tear on a local park that was one of the few parks in the area. What is the cost to the mental health of area residents?
Pennsylvania does not have a lock on crazy rules. A man in Colorado was arrested for playing catch with his daughter in a park. I can understand why local authorities would close the playground equipment, but I do not understand why using wide open spaces would be wrong.
Other states have arrested people for surfing in the ocean and walking on beaches. When beaches were opened, there were some activities that were approved and some that were not – some were absurd. I saw a sign from one beach in New Jersey with lists of things that people could and could not do there. They could walk, run, exercise, surf, or fish, but they could not swim, sunbath, or sit in chairs. I can understand why they did not want group sports or people forming groups, but I think that swimming, sunbathing, or sitting in chairs is a little overboard.
Because of states rights issues, there are some things that the federal government can do, and some things that are left to the states or the people to do. However, the Constitution is still the law of the land even in a pandemic. It is right that Americans be aware of orders that violate their constitutional rights and rights as human beings.
U. S. Attorney William Barr was concerned that some states and local governments were restricting the civil rights of Americans. One town issued tickets to people who drove their private cars into the parking lot of their church, stayed in their cars with the windows rolled up, and listened to the Sunday sermon over their car radio. The city fathers were ordered to allow churches to do whatever is allowed for other businesses. If a bar or restaurant could have drive up business, then churches can have drive-up sermons.
I am grateful that we have an Attorney General who honors the Constitution. He told U.S. attorneys in April that “the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis” (Stepman). He told them to be vigilant about upholding the Constitution while protecting the public from the virus. Stepman closes his essay with these reminders.
Our national push and pull over good laws and bad, the often-noisy debates over how to respond correctly to crisis, is the normal course of an American system created to handle both good times and bad.
America is not a democracy, but self-government and the democratic elements of our republic allow us to work through complex challenges far better than governmental systems with rigid, top-down control.
As tumultuous as our system may seem to the outside world, it gives us the best chance to beat COVID-19 and escape encroaching tyranny at the same time.
Our democratic republic that allows Americans to rule ourselves is an inspired form of government. The tyranny exhibited by some state and local governments can be corrected by applying constitutional laws. No matter how noisy or crazy our debates get, we have the best kind of government in the world.