Over the past five weeks, governors throughout the United States have issued stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 that have wrought unimaginable economic and social destruction.
Although slowing the spread of COVID-19 is a moral imperative, governors need to recognize that people’s livelihoods also must be part of the equation. They also need to balance their coronavirus responses with the spirit of liberty and fundamental freedoms that make America exceptional.
Since the onslaught of coronavirus, 27 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses are hanging on by a thread. Americans are struggling to feed their families, pay their rents and mortgages, and provide basic essentials.
Hospitals have suspended “elective” procedures, which include everything from cancer screenings to chemotherapy. Drug and alcohol abuse, depression, domestic violence, and suicide rates are rising. As Americans are forced to remain at home for weeks, the psychological toll is mounting.
This is unsustainable. Moreover, it is not a strategy to fight the virus. It is a strategy to cower in fear of the virus. Even worse, it is un-American and is in direct conflict with the very values that this nation was founded upon.
The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
According to Dictionary.com, “unalienable” means “not transferable to another or not capable of being taken away or denied.” The Declaration of Independence makes it crystal clear: Under no circumstances will the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness be encumbered—ever.
Unequivocally, Americans have the fundamental right to determine their own destinies. Government, under the American system, is intended to protect these rights, not deny them.
What if these rights are jeopardized by government? According to the Declaration of Independence, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
This simply means that governments are necessary to secure these “unalienable” rights. However, government never has the ability to suspend or infringe upon these absolute rights because these rights transcend government.
Fortunately, the Declaration of Independence instructs us how to handle a government that has gone rogue: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”
In other words, it is the responsibility of the “We The People” to ensure that our government (federal, state, or local) does not infringe upon these sacred rights.
And this is where the rubber meets the road. Governors across the country are defying their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. No doubt, many of these governors are issuing these unconstitutional executive orders out of an abundance of caution, under the mantra: “save lives.”
Yet, even this heart wrenching rationale does not pass constitutional muster. Governors simply cannot order residents of their states to months of house arrest in order to supposedly arrest the spread of coronavirus.
As the past few weeks have shown, Americans realize their unalienable rights are being eviscerated. Such is why thousands of patriots are protesting these dubious, draconian quarantine decrees. Instead of vilifying these protestors, we should be placing them on a pedestal.
Tone deaf governors should also start paying attention to these protestors and initiate commonsense plans to lift their overly strict stay-at-home orders. The vast majority of Americans want to maintain the health of their families and those they love and care about.
Yet, they also need to be able to provide for their families and loved ones. And the only way to do that is to open the economy, in the most safe and timely manner possible.