Issues & Insights

America Is Reopening Itself: Will Politicians Be Able To Stop It?

I&I Editorial

Weary of more than two months of lockdowns, lost jobs, vanished income, and emotional distress, Americans are practicing a bit of Irish Democracy, shopping, dining out, gathering, and trying to carry on as before the pandemic arrived without approval from authorities. It was bound to happen.

As has been widely noted, we were initially told that we needed to shut down and shelter in place so that we would “flatten the curve” of infection growth to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed by people sick with COVID-19. That benchmark was met a little more than a month into the lockdowns. Time magazine reported in late April that “The U.S. Has Flattened the Curve.” This New York Times chart clearly shows that the flattening began early last month.

Yet many Americans are still under shelter-in-place orders, some of which have been extended. We hate to use a cliche, but politicians have been moving the goalposts. Flattening the curve isn’t good enough. They want to keep people home until there’s a vaccine; or science, which has sadly become a loose term that means whatever the user wants it to, has established an effective treatment; or maybe until there are zero coronavirus cases.

This has rankled more than a few. The masses are fed up with huddling in their homes and are yearning to breathe free.

The center of the “resistance” might be, oddly enough, in California, which has three “Free Counties.” Sutter and Yuba, just north of Sacramento, and Modoc, in the state’s far northeast corner, have reopened without Gov. Gavin Newsom’s approval. More counties quickly followed, rushing, reports the Sacramento Bee, “to persuade state health officials they are ready to reopen key segments of their local economies on a fast-track basis.”

In Southern California, Orange County engaged Newsom in a bitter battle over reopening beaches there. Newsom closed the shoreline when he saw photos that he didn’t like of people on the sand in Newport Beach. County Supervisor Michelle Steel called it an “act of retribution against Orange County.” But beachgoers eventually won by kicking up such a fuss that Newsom and state authorities were pressured into making a decision they otherwise would not have made.

Meanwhile, Michiganders are chafing under the boot of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has issued arguably the harshest lockdown orders in the country, and has even extended to May 28 her initial closure order for some businesses. The capital in Lansing has been the site of demonstrations by some deeply restless, and in many cases angry, protesters.

We haven’t had any bloodshed yet,” one member of a Facebook group called Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine recently wrote.

We hope there is none. But tempers are short. One man has already been charged with making death threats against Whitmer and the state attorney general. And we’ve seen members of the Michigan Militia swear they aren’t going to allow law enforcement to arrest an Owosso barber who reopened his business because he had no other income. How long can she hold back demands for freedom — in America? 

Other developments include:

  • “Lockdown-weary New Yorkers ditched the distancing to get social instead this weekend — transforming parts of the Big Apple into a raucous, late-season Mardi Gras,” the New York Post reported last week.
  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ orders, immediately lifting “all restrictions on businesses and gatherings imposed by the administration’s order” while keeping “in place the closure of schools until fall.” The suit was filed by the Republican leadership in the Wisconsin Legislature.
  • A group has filed a lawsuit against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the attorney general for using the “pandemic as an excuse to revoke a long list of natural rights” guaranteed by the Constitution, and “recognized in the Declaration of Independence.” 
  • Stephen Kruiser, who writes PJMedia’s Morning Briefing, suggested Monday that the lockdown governors need to be locked up. “The ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ crowd continues to overplay its hand, which is why this would be the perfect time to begin some real push-back against them,” he writes. They “need to be reined in for the financial well-being of the people whose lives they’re ruining.”
  • Law enforcement officers showed up Monday at a New Jersey gym that opened without permission. One of the officers read a notice informing the members they were in violation of the governor’s orders. He then said “on that note, have a good day. Everybody be safe,” before turning and walking away.
  • A few days after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said that counties and businesses that plan to reopen without state approval were committing a “cowardly act,” protesters rallied on the capitol steps in Harrisburg, chanting “open us up” and “let us work.”
  • Other protests have been seen on Long Island, and in Sacramento; Annapolis; Washington, D.C.; North Carolina, Rhode Island, Ohio, Minnesota, and Livermore, California.

The control that politicians and unelected bureaucrats who are advising them have been exerting is clearly slipping away, and they are facing a choice: They can work with the people who feel suffocated and expeditiously restore as much normalcy as possible, or they can remain on their present course, which increases the chances there’ll be violence because either a protester or someone in a security line will make a poor decision of out anger or fear, and then pay the price on Election Day.

As Adm. Josh Painter said in “The Hunt For Red October,” “this business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.” There is that much raw emotion out there.

— Written by J. Frank Bullitt

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  • And they will use the full power of their office to go after these businesses. Take their license away, fines , jail time, CPS etc. And they call President Trump a dictator.
    And where the hell is ANTIFA, this is what facism looks like morons, I guess they are really for facism, most Americans already knew this though. Maybe they are being fitted with brown shirts, the army Obama wanted to create.

  • The assertion here is that Americans are reopening, and that the masses are tired of huddling and “yearning to breathe free”. I’ve got a counter-assertion for you; many millions are not going out unless absolutely necessary, and that no matter how much you proclaim “reopening”, this economy is going to bottom-bounce like a sinker on a walleye line until we have a vaccine. I am diabetic. My mom is over 80. My sister is a transplant recipient. We are NOT going out no matter what “proclamation” is given – – and not just for our personal protection but the protection of those around us, and there are MILLIONS like us. I have a die-hard GOP friend who is retired, who probably will never vote for any Democrat – – and who will NOT go out until there is a vaccine. The “reopeners” who think life will go back to normal soon are clearly not taking the millions like me into account, judging from their vociferous espousal of their cause clearly based on the hope for economic revival. I don’t give a damn about any political message here or there. Without a vaccine the pandemic is “on” and I am “off” as far as going out. You can reopen and talk bravely about reopening all you like. But it’s not going to produce any sort of economic boom or recovery in the hard bottom-line numbers of many businesses any time this year.

    • That’s absolutely fine no one is going to force you to leave your house and you can look down on people who want to get on with their lives and who want to run their businesses so that they don’t go under but the reality is that if we were to wait for a vaccine which could easily be 2-3 years away then we would be resigning a huge swath of the country to abject poverty and desperation unseen since the bottom of the depression. I understand you don’t want to go out and by all means that your choice but expecting a whole country to live like you is incredibly unrealistic. From what I’ve seen a lot of people want to get back to normal so their will be a recovery maybe not the strongest of ones but a recovery just the same and the “millions” like you can hole up in your house while the rest of the country moves on with their life.

    • you miss the point. People like you and your family have every right and reason to stay home. Tens of millions of others do not share your medical history and indeed are yearning to start living again. Normal may happen gradually, but it absolutely can’t happen at all until the first step is taken.

    • And you are absolutely free to remain in lock down – but those of us who aren’t extremely elderly or in poor health should be able to freely grocery shop, plant a garden or actually (!) earn a living without government interference. Stop trying to blame others for your predicament.

    • You are free to stay inside, but you are not free to constrain anyone else to do the same.
      This country was founded upon the God given rights of freedom to choose life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is an all inclusive list, not an either or…
      No politician can truthfully deny these things if they support the Constitution of the United States of America. Which they swore an oath to defend.

    • Sure some people will remain scared to death for a long time. But many of us are not scared, and will do normal-ish activities, wearing a mask when necessary. As I have noted in my comment above, there are more customers willing to return to many businesses than there are owners/operators/employees willing to operate some of these businesses.

    • Sorry to read about your health issues and those of your loved ones. I don’t think people generally mean it goes back to normal. PPE use will be with us for some time. Community places will be kept better sanitized. I also think people generally don’t expect the economy to get back to the previous level it was but expect it start to come back once opening is the norm. You sound very angry and I empathize. I have aged parents I haven’t seen since the Christmas holidays. At some point the country does need to get back to economic production in order to pay for the necessities to beat this and future virus coming from China (this is #5). This is not about Democrat or Republican but it does seem one party is showing hard signs of authoritarian attitudes and proclamations while the other is focused on the start of recovery and with it restoration of basic freedoms. This is much larger than just the danger of contracting this virus. More than half of all deaths have occured in the nursing homes in spite of the warning early on from Washington State. These governors that are insisting on staying shut down are trying to justify their fatal choices (Maryland, DC, VA, PA, NJ, CT, NY) by amplifying the risk. The numbers do not justify the slaughter of business, silencing those who worship, or the confiscation of our civil liberties. At this point we all know the risks. I hope you and your loved ones do come out with the PPE as needed.

    • There were 1.5 million tuberculosis cases world wide last year- a much deadlier disease- and we didn’t close down. With your health problems, you probably should quarantine yourself. But your fear doesn’t trump my constitutionally recognized natural rights.

    • thats the point…YOU are always welcome to stay home. Let the rest of us ( some who have never had the luxury of staying home) go about our lives!

  • Government will not be able to stop it, but there may be many fatalities along the way.

    • Keep an eye on eastern North Carolina. The Governor here is continuing the lockdown of 10.6 million people over the deaths of 768.
      The people the coastal region have already moved on with the local sheriffs declaring allegiance to the constitution and not to edicts from above. The State Police have not been dispatched and I doubt they will be. This is an open carry state and many people are armed and as I moved about normally over the last week more and more stores, shops and restaurants are opening. Yesterday the waterfront was wall to wall with waits at many shops. The people have made their decision and there is now nothing the government can do short of calling out the national guard to stop it in many counties. God bless America.

  • “They want to keep people home until there’s a vaccine … [or] an effective treatment, or maybe until there are zero coronavirus cases.”

    I honestly do not know a single official or serious thinker who has proposed that. That’s a straw man.

  • My observations from Virginia, which has partially reopened — Many businesses that are legally allowed to reopen have not done so. The counties nearest DC remain closed, but most of the rest are opened partially. Even so, only a minority of wineries have done the partial reopening they are allowed to do, with outdoor seating. And it is even worse with massage parlors, as most remain closed. One in Warrenton briefly reopened and then closed once they realized that everyone from Fairfax County (which is still closed) was driving to Warrenton. Only one in Front Royal is open. One in Chester is open (that is south of Richmond), but only one person (probably the owner or the manager) is on duty. There was no shortage of customers in that place, but a shortage of staff instead. People are obviously still scared to death.

  • I agree with defying any enforcement of unconstitutional decrees by politicians.

    If anyone tries to enforce these decrees, they do so at their own risk.

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