In 2020 COVID fears enabled American elites to grab a record amount of power — and they love it and don’t want to give it up. But if the American people don’t take back our constitutional rights in 2021, it could be much more difficult to ever get them back.
There are many rational reasons why so many Americans oppose the severe lockdowns imposed in so many states. Indeed, contrary to accusations against us, we do care about human life, we do believe in science, and we are willing to make rational sacrifices for the public good.
But we do not like it when government takes away our most basic, God-given, hard-won, constitutional rights (such as the freedoms to worship, assemble, and protest). This is all the more so when the same government officials imposing such public diktats privately flout their own rules (California Governor Gavin Newsom, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and White House medical advisors Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx).
Fauci initially said we need not fear COVID. Then he changed his mind. Then he said masks were a waste of time. Then he said they were crucially important.
Many of us are troubled by all the massive problems created by the government-imposed economic lockdowns: in our nation, huge upticks in unemployment, crime, failed “virtual” education, the relapse of alcoholics and drug addicts, drug overdoses, domestic violence, family breakdown, mental illness, and suicide; all these, plus threats of malnutrition and even starvation in many tourism-dependent countries.
Many of us question the expertise (and honesty) of public health “experts” pushing for lockdowns. For example, Dr. Fauci initially said we need not fear COVID. Then he changed his mind. Then he said masks were a waste of time. Then he said they were crucially important. Then there were images of him sitting with people in a stadium, and he was not wearing his mask. He claimed he was eating, but pictures showed otherwise.
It looks like a lot of classism here, too. Is it a coincidence that the highly credentialed bourgeois government elites, elected politicians, bureaucrats, doctors, and others in the professional class demanding we shut down so much of the economy never lose their own jobs because of the lockdowns? Instead, it’s overwhelmingly non-college-educated, blue collar, service sector, poorer, non-white, and younger Americans whose jobs and lives have been most disrupted and often destroyed.
Is it coincidental that, while the lockdowns have destroyed so many small businesses, big businesses are booming? Indeed, when restaurants and churches were forcibly locked down by many Democratic governors, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and other major corporations were spared. They made huge profits in 2020. The stock market sank dramatically at the beginning, but finished off with a record high. Were big businesses exempt from the lockdowns because they donate tons of money to election campaigns?
Could the fact that most big business campaign donations go to Democrats, while most small businessmen tend to be Republicans, have influenced Democratic governors to impose far tougher lockdowns on small businesses?
It’s overwhelmingly non-college-educated, blue collar, service sector, poorer, non-white, and younger Americans whose jobs and lives have been most disrupted and often destroyed.
Is it right that these same Democratic governors order churches locked down as “non-essential” businesses, but abortion clinics and marijuana shops are allowed to continue business as usual since they have been declared “essential”?
As to the claim that America needs one centralized (and even more authoritarian) national anti-COVID policy, thankfully our Founding Fathers gave us a federal government. To paraphrase Justice Louis Brandeis, the beauty of federalism is that it gives us dozens of local lab experiments. Each state can handle challenges in whatever ways are best for it, and each state can learn from others’ successes and failures. So let’s compare how well different states’ COVID policies have worked. The Founders thought this best for a big nation encompassing many different people and cultures. In fact, federalism (with its flexibility and healthy competition) is a big reason why our country has historically done phenomenally well.
But the COVID lockdowns have shown Lord Acton’s warning to be as valid as ever: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Yet in 2020 we learned how easily vast numbers of the American people could, in the face of power, turn into passively obedient sheep or even fanatical conformists hectoring or ratting out less neurotic fellow citizens. Still, we may recall that only a minority of Americans supported our revolution against the British tyranny.
Precisely when our rights are most under assault is when “the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot” that Thomas Paine warned us about will abandon the fight. Instead, may those of us who value liberty emulate a true patriot who not only risked his life for his country’s freedom, but gave it. Near the end of his inaugural address, President Kennedy declared: “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it.”