Nate Jackson / April 20, 2020

Governors Provide a Liberty vs. Tyranny Contrast

The after-action reporting on the shutdown will need to account for varying state responses.

Governors were in the driver’s seat in terms of setting policies for stay-at-home orders, and they will be the ones deciding when those orders end and Americans can begin getting back to normal. The federalist system America’s Founders designed is as brilliant now as it was then, in part because everyone’s able to see the comparisons and contrasts across the nation.

All but five states issued some level of stay-at-home order, and many of those orders will remain in effect well into May, if not longer. Some orders are more restrictive than others. New York is encouraging citizens to snitch on other citizens for not abiding by restrictions. Some states are monitoring citizens with Chinese-made drones. Others are cracking down on Christians meeting in parking lots.

As we noted last week, Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders are so tyrannical that residents are protesting in the streets. She insists that makes her more likely to extend the orders. Protests have also flared up in Ohio, Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.

Likely thinking at least partly of Whitmer, who has been floated as a possible running mate for Joe Biden, President Donald Trump observed, “Some governors have gone too far. Some of the things that have happened are maybe not so appropriate.” Effectively ordering stores to rope off certain sections to prevent sales of items Whitmer deems nonessential is definitely an example of something being “maybe not so appropriate.”

It’s not just governors. House Majority Whip James Clyburn infamously said of last month’s massive relief bill that it was “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

In short, one thing the pandemic has revealed is the authoritarian impulses of many politicians. Well before corona-anything was heard of, some governors, legislators, and bureaucrats — all egged on by a complicit news media — were already geared toward exercising control over the citizenry. The pandemic merely gave them “justification” for things they maybe couldn’t do previously.

Arguably the most revealing quote came from New Jersey Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy, who said of his shutdown order, “I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.”

It’s still too soon to give a true evaluation of the actions we’ve taken as a nation, but it will serve us well to contrast the heavy-handed crackdowns in Democrat-run states with the easier approach of many Republican-run ones. Several Southern states are banding together to discuss reopening very soon. And, again, five states didn’t lock down in nearly the same fashion. One fundamental question will remain: Are we destroying our republic in order to save it?

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