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:
- Palm Beach County, Florida, reopened before it had met federal guidelines, according to a weekend story in the Florida Sun-Sentinel.
- “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