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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

No Victory Lap For Governors Who Locked Down America – AIER

Posted by M. C. on July 15, 2021

The lockdowns that governors imposed also pointlessly ravaged many Americans’ mental health. The Centers for Disease Control last month reported a 51% increase in emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts by teenage girls in early 2021. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found a 300% increase in the percentage of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder (41% of adults in January 2021). The CDC also reported a record number of drug overdose deaths last year, due in part to the lockdowns and other government-imposed disruptions. 

https://www.aier.org/article/no-victory-lap-for-governors-who-locked-down-america/

James Bovard

James Bovard

There are no fact-checkers for victory laps. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo summarized his experience with the Covid-19 crisis: “Speaking for myself, it was a tremendous personal benefit.” Cuomo made that declaration in a speech concluding his one-year chairmanship of the National Governors Association. Because Cuomo’s spiel sought to rewrite history to exonerate politicians who ravaged Americans’ rights and liberties, it requires a rebuttal. 

Cuomo declared that “we maximized the moment as governors. Governors have a new credibility. Governors have a new status.” Cuomo epitomized the rush to “absolute power” that occurred in governor’s mansions across the nation. After he fueled pandemic fears, the New York Times proclaimed, “Andrew Cuomo Is the Control Freak We Need Right Now.” A New Yorker profile, titled “Andrew Cuomo, King of New York,” explained that Cuomo and his aides saw the battle over Covid policy as “between people who believe government can be a force for good and those who think otherwise.” Cuomo denounced anyone who disobeyed his edicts, including condemning sheriffs as “dictators” for refusing to enforce his mask mandate inside people’s homes. 

Cuomo justified placing almost 20 million people under house arrest: “If everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.” Though his repressive policies failed to prevent New York from having among the nation’s highest Covid death rates, he became a superhero thanks largely to media scoring that ignored almost all of the harms he inflicted. Cuomo won an Emmy Award for his “masterful use of television” during the pandemic. Media valorization helped make Cuomo’s self-tribute book,American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, a bestseller. 

Cuomo had plenty of power-mad accomplices in the governors’ association.  Oregon Governor Kate Brown banned residents from leaving their homes except for essential work, buying food, and other narrow exemptions and also banned all recreational travel. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer imposed some of the most severe restrictions, prohibiting anyone from leaving their home to visit family or friends. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti even banned people from walking or bicycling outside. The CDC eventually admitted that there was almost no risk of Covid contagion from outdoors activity not amidst a throng of people. But that did not stop politicians from claiming that “science and data” justified locking people in their homes. 

Some governors have acted as if their shutdown orders gave them unlimited sway to decree when normal life could resume. California Gov. Gavin Newsom decreed that Covid restrictions would be perpetuated in California counties based on voter turnout, alcohol availability, and other non-health factors. California assemblyman Kevin Kiley groused, “An entire county can be kept shut down because certain areas are judged to be lacking in ‘equity,’ even if the whole county has relatively few cases of Covid.” The end of Covid restrictions turned into hostage release negotiations with domineering rulers clinging to all their new prerogatives. 

Cuomo was proud that, when he visits a school, he is no longer asked “‘What does a governor do?” because “people know what governors do and how important governors are.” Governors can wreck kids’ futures by shutting down schools and placing children under indefinite home detention, costing millions of children almost an entire year of learning.

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James Bovard is the author of ten books, including Public Policy Hooligan, Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, and Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Playboy, Washington Post, New Republic, Reader’s Digest, and many other publications. He is a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, a frequent contributor to The Hill, and a contributing editor for American Conservative

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