I am not trying to get into the policy discussions surrounding COVID, at least not on this page. But I am speaking up in defense of our Constitution and our system of checks and balances. Please consider that the issue here is much bigger than the “masks vs. no masks” or “lockdown vs. no lockdown” questions. This is about WHO GETS TO DECIDE.
Will “We the People” govern ourselves? Or do we now live in a world where one person can declare an emergency that gives the same individual authority over every last aspect of our lives for an indefinite period of time?
Will “We the People” hold honest debates through our state legislatures, allowing us to hear BOTH sides of any given issue? Or does one person get to choose the expert that we are “allowed” to believe?
Will “We the People” be in charge of a transparent government that gives us full information? Or must we comply w/mandates exerted through a claim of emergency power, even when we wonder about reporting irregularities?
In too many states, Governors have grabbed the reins of power—or, in some places, it’s Mayors or County Judges. These executives are acting alone, without legislative input. Our regular system of checks and balances and separation of powers has been left by the wayside.
But why? It is the core of who we are. We are a constitutional republic, not a monarchy. The system protects our liberty and needs to be respected, even in a pandemic.
Americans are a good, kind people who want to help our fellow citizens. That’s why, when we were told we needed “15 days to flatten the curve,” many of us did our best to help. And it’s why the appeal of masks is so great right now. People want to help.
But 15 days has turned into nearly 5 months. We are not allowed to talk about the pros AND cons of masks, even though experts worldwide acknowledge health risks to masks, especially cloth masks. We are not allowed to talk about the pros and cons of lockdowns vs. herd immunity, even though some experts think that herd immunity is easier to attain than initially thought and will result in fewer lost lives. We’re not allowed to hear everything there is to know about various treatments that have surfaced. These experts are silenced, and we are told to wait for a vaccine.
I certainly don’t claim to have the corner on the truth, so my opinion about any of these matters doesn’t really matter. BUT IN THE SAME WAY, the opinion of a single individual who just happens to sit in the Governor’s office doesn’t matter, either. Instead, the legislature should be hearing evidence on all these matters. More information would come out, and we’d know more about the complicated nature of the challenges facing us. Our Governors should obviously feel free to sign or veto legislation—they can even use their bully pulpit—but months of single-handed edicts are not in their job descriptions.
We don’t have Kings and Queens in this country.
Finally, consider that we have a real problem right now because the people who get to declare an emergency and wield power in an emergency are all the same people who can control when the emergency ends. Have you noticed that the goalposts have shifted from “flatten the curve” to “no one should get sick”? The second goal is impossible and will ensure that we are ruled by executive edict indefinitely.
None of this is right. It’s not American. And it is long past time for “We the People” to stand up and say ENOUGH.