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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the COVID-19 lockdown has stood out as one of the most severe and arbitrary in the US. Michiganders are unable to purchase gardening supplies but lottery tickets are fine. They can travel to Walmart but not to their cabins in the countryside. They can paddle a canoe but can’t ride a jet ski.
Many officials and citizens have had enough. A group of county sheriffs announced Wednesday that they will not enforce some of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown orders. At the same time, thousands of Michiganders gathered at the state capitol to protest her actions in a rally they dubbed “Operation Gridlock.”
Sheriffs from four contiguous counties in the northwest corner of the lower peninsula are placing their constitutional duties above the governor’s mandates.
We write today to inform the public for our respective counties of our opposition to some of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders. While we understand her desire to protect the public, we question some restrictions that she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority. She has created a vague framework of emergency laws that only confuse Michigan residents.
As a result, we will not have strict enforcement of these orders.
…Our focus needs to be on reopening our counties and getting people back to work. We also need to be aware that this virus is deadly and that we need to continue to practice social distancing, washing of hands, wearing of masks as well as other medically recommended measures.
Gov. Whitmer has faced an unprecedented backlash from the public due to her bizarre overreach, both online and at the state capitol.
“There is no reason why she can’t be looking at some safe ways to be opening up businesses. Instead of talking about what’s essential and nonessential, let’s talk about what’s safe and not safe,” said Meshawn Maddock, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Conservative Coalition. “Safe businesses and safe workers need to get back to work.”
Officials with the Conservative Coalition said they had instructed all participants to remain in cars and adhere to social distancing guidelines, although video from the scene showed citizens milling about outside of vehicles. Michigan State Police have reportedly been told to stand down and not arrest the protesters for refusing to follow the public gathering ban.
“People are basically being told what they can and can’t buy at stores,” Conservative Coalition member Matt Seely told News 8. “Nothing makes sense. You can buy a bottle of liquor, but you can’t buy a gallon of paint.”
Whitmer (and several other governors, all Democrats) don’t understand that lockdown orders only last as long as officials and the public allow them to. The principle of “consent of the governed” was popularized by John Locke, but has existed forever. Even autocrats who theoretically held absolute power were overthrown when the people had enough. Roman generals shivved unpopular emperors and a Milanese mob swung Mussolini from a lamppost. Mercifully, our political leaders are merely recalled from office or tossed out on election day.
The Declaration of Independence made the US the first nation to enshrine this concept in its founding documents. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Aside from political theory, attaining the consent of the governed is just common-sense leadership. Many governors understood this from the start and are leading far more effective responses. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has spent the past three months meeting with healthcare experts, scientists, educators, business leaders, and political leaders from both parties. He shares their views with the public several times a day and telegraphs future orders to prepare everyone ahead of time.
After getting buy-in, he methodically recommended increasing limits on schools, businesses, and other institutions. And the vast majority of these moves were recommendations, not orders enforced at gunpoint. Arizonans, now educated on the issue, willingly chose to follow these guidelines. On Monday, he began preparing the public for a re-opening of our economy.
In response to this steady leadership, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema blasted him on social media. In March, she demanded a total shutdown everywhere, from downtown Phoenix to sleepy ranching towns. She ignored the consent of the governed and insisted on autocratic whim. Worse still, she shouted “take action now!” as she delayed the Coronavirus relief bill a week on the orders of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
Gov. Whitmer followed Sinema’s advice and the expected backlash has begun. If Whitmer wants to keep her job, she might want to read her John Locke. Without the consent of Michigan’s voters, her future COVID-19 orders will fail and she won’t stay in Lansing much longer.Published in