AP featured image
California Gov. Gavin Newsom visits the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s McClellan Reload Base in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, July 9, 2020, to discuss the state’s new efforts to protect emergency personnel and evacuees from COVID-19 during wildfires. (AP Photo/Hector Amezcua, Pool)

 

If this COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that there are a whole lot of people out there who do not know the line between proper governance and full-blown government overreach.

Hi, you may recognize me as the pro-mask advocate who argued that there was merit in a (temporary) shutdown in order to combat the virus. These are positions I still hold, and I do believe that in many places these actions did help. But it is also very clear to see that there is a line that has to be walked between restricting some activity and being too controlling, and many state governments took full advantage of the fear of their citizens to cross that line.

In California, for example, Governor Gavin Newsom has been wielding and abusing power like crazy. It’s been absolutely insane, but even going so far as to risk leaving children with learning disabilities without proper help by forcing them to stay away from schools. His shutdown has extended far beyond any usefulness and instead of properly leading, he has shut down businesses, churches, schools, and anything else people regularly visit.

As a result of that, a new initiative has been filed in the state’s legislature which would limit Newsom’s ability to impose this tyrannical veil over his citizens.

Let’s be totally fair here: Each state is responsible for its own handling of this. There is no federal power to do any of the things that Newsom or anyone else has proclaimed President Donald Trump should be doing. So, each state government does have the freedom to do what they think is right and proper. But if those actions cross a Constitutional line OR if they are rejected by the voters, then that power can and should be limited.

In this case, it appears as though the state government is going to have a reckoning of some sort over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. What is also clear, though, is that some people really don’t understand the difference between effective governance and authoritarian control.

If this POLITICO reporter actually read and understood the text in the original tweet, he might realize that his tweet is really just dumb. Saying the government will not have the power to affect “private business, public beaches, state parks, places of worship or personal freedoms” is not saying the government can’t do anything. You could argue that state parks fall under their jurisdiction and I wouldn’t complain, and depending on how public beaches are operated, you might have a case there, as well.

But even giving credence to those arguments, you are still giving government far too much power over your personal life if you say they can mandate that your privately-owned business can remain indefinitely closed if you did not commit a crime. You are giving them too much power if you allow them to dictate what churches can be open and when. There are freedoms that have to be respected.

What’s more, there is a whole lot more that government can and should do outside of regulating your life in order to combat a massive pandemic outbreak within its borders. Its health department can be proactive in going to the most vulnerable places (like nursing homes, as Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida ordered his government to do) and working to identify and remove those at risk from a possible outbreak. A state government can better provide access to health care by working with its health system to maximize bed space and efficiency.

The first reaction of a government during a crisis shouldn’t be determining what it can restrict you from doing. That’s the thought process of someone who believes more government can fix things, when all this crisis has shown us is that more government creates a bigger mess.

Joe Cunningham
Joe Cunningham is a Senior Editor at RedState. You can find his commentary on Louisiana issues at The Hayride. You can also follow him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and Like his page on Facebook.
Read more by Joe Cunningham