When we finally loosed our British yoke in 1783 after a 5-year war, we wanted to make sure we didn’t get locked in a new one with central government control of our lives. So we accepted considerable federalism in our Constitution, but also stipulated that all things not reserved for the feds would belong to the states.
That’s marvelous — sometimes. Not necessarily during an emergency, which is what we have now with the Covid pandemic. Washington recommends that states follow protocols of the Centers for Disease Control, but the final decision rests with 50 governors. They are under pressure from the Don’t Tread On Me quarter. Don’t close my bar or restaurant. Don’t tell me I have to wear a mask. Don’t tell me I have to have a vaccination. This is the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free.
That makes it nearly impossible to totally knock out Covid-19. It’s virtually gone in China (where it did start), in Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. That’s because people either followed orders-or-else in authoritarian nations, or just have a history of following orders in democratic nations. South Australia went into hard lockdown over just 17 virus cases!
We don’t much like following orders, and now some of our conservative press is encouraging that independence behavior.
Of immediate note is the Wall Street Journal. It’s editorials basically encourage an uprising against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her effort to bring Covid back under control with a new lockdown. The Journal writes: “The Democrat has found a new statutory justification to continue her arbitrary emergency rule of one.” In other words, a leftist dictator who should be tossed.
The editorial board supports those merchants who object to state government saying who’s essential and stays open, and who’s not and stays closed. There’s a lawsuit pending which says “restaurant, bar, cafe and brewery owners have lost the ability to use their real and personal property in any meaningful economically beneficial manner.
The Journal eggs it on. “A pandemic doesn’t negate the Constitution.”
Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito eggs it on. He says the longer emergency powers are in effect, the more they become questionable under the law.
We in Hawaii are catching this Don’t Tread On Me virus. Bars are closed for the good reason that bar patrons want socialization, not distancing while they drink and talk. So they want the same open-okay as a restaurant which also serves alcohol so long as its annual income is at least 30% from food.
We have a gang that refuses to wear masks except briefly when required to enter a store (and not willingly then, either.)
We have a gang that disbelieves the CDC and WHO and thinks this pandemic will quickly blow over and that officials are over reacting. Some deaths? Sure, but you get those in car and plane crashes, too, but don’t ban cars and planes. History will record that President Trump helped stoke those attitudes.
No small number of Americans believe that government is acting in a capricious, sporadic and selective way in closing bars or gyms or restaurants or unessential businesses. There’s some substance there, of course. Why is Walmart or a camera shop essential? Or a manicure salon? Or a mattress store?
But overall, with some horrible mistakes, the pandemic restrictions target our alarming indifference to the spread of the virus, the rising hospital cases and the rising death toll.
Sometimes you have to accept being tread on for a brief period. I don’t want to die while shouting “freedom!”