Smart people know they shouldn’t go grocery shopping when they’re really hungry. Or shoot guns when they’re on crystal meth. Or drive under the influence of alcohol. Yet many of us do not see the danger of having our leaders make important decisions for us when we are afraid.
Fear makes people panic. People do not make good decisions when they are in a state of panic. Consider what happened nearly 20 years ago, when our politicians pushed through the infamous Patriot Act in the wake of the attacks on 9/11. It basically guts the Constitution and puts unelected officials in charge of whatever laws they wish to break. It tramples on your rights as a citizen of the United States of America as well as your rights as a human being.
And we accepted it, because we were fearful. We convinced ourselves that those rights would (probably) only be taken from terrorists, and that only “bad guys” would be spied upon. And the FISA court would ensure that everything was on the up-and-up. Yeah, right. The same FISA court was hoodwinked into enabling the FBI to spy on Trump’s presidential campaign? Yup.
Now, in this time of COVID-19, we see that some politicians have become even more emboldened, sensing a weakness in our resolve to remain free. Like sharks that sense blood in the water, they circle around and look for vulnerabilities.
We have the Mayor of Champaign, Illinois assigning to herself dictatorial powers if she deems them appropriate. We have the Governor of Michigan imposing absurdly irrational lock-down orders, and a peaceful protest leader in New Jersey has been charged with “disorderly conduct”, a charge that carries with it a stiff fine and jail sentence. [Funny how there were so few arrests of violent “Black Lives Matter” protesters a while ago.]
We have the Governor of Massachusetts arbitrarily closing gun shops, despite the Federal guideline that establishes them clearly as ‘essential’. And yet on Sunday, the flower shop was open and lottery ticket sales were going on as usual. Go figure.
I’m all in favor of social distancing, masks, hand-washing, testing and whatever else we can voluntarily do to keep ourselves and others safe. What I’m dead set against is the desire so many people express to have a totalitarian-style government dictate to them and others what they must do and cannot do.
We all know that politicians love a crisis — it gives them an opportunity to grandstand in front of TV cameras and exploit fear and paranoia. And that’s exactly when we should be most on guard to prevent the loss of freedom and the violation of hard-won rights.