29 Mar Citizen Recourse – Fighting Back Against Panicked Officials
It’s time for a grassroots movement among American freedom-lovers to push back against restrictions on freedom—issuable at every government level—before the next pandemic.
Americans have witnessed the President, governors, mayors, county executives, and many others declare quarantines, shelter-in-place orders, social distancing rules and the like, with the awesome power of the law enforcement apparatus, including in some cases, the National Guard, right in tow behind them.
In the face of these unprecedented restrictions on freedom, Americans have so far been relatively placid and compliant, giving the benefit of the doubt to public officials, presuming them to be acting in good faith with concern for public health in the face of a virus shrouded in a sense of nefarious origin and unknown content.
But there’s an American heritage of freedom that runs deep, and the violation of that heritage is starting to stir rebellion. It’s not a rebellion born of refusal to accept any restrictions at any time; it’s born of America’s founding principle that American citizens can and should be trusted to self-govern–to conduct themselves responsibly once informed of the risks—and not be subject to a government with power to order them around.
The fact that every society, including America’s, includes segments of ignorant or foolish people who won’t act responsibly unless ordered to do so and threatened with incarceration for not doing so, should not in America be considered sufficient to impinge on the higher value of freedom. In other words, Americans take the risk of idiots and fools in their midst; they do not allow the government at the point of a gun to control everyone because of the recalcitrance of the few.
Thomas Jefferson reminded Americans that rebellion against tyranny is a good thing, but rather than expending energy railing on the personalities involved or being consumed by partisan politics, let’s go right to serious proposals. For example:
- An elected official should be able to act unilaterally at the outset of a healthcare emergency to issue freedom-restricting orders, but the orders cannot be for more than a specified duration.
Freedom-lovers would argue for shorter-the-better—e.g., maybe 72 hours; government control/healthcare ‘expert’ lovers would argue for longer.
Let the democratic process in each jurisdiction decide the right initial duration for them. But to extend beyond the specified duration requires an adversarial public hearing in front of a Citizens Commission on Public Health.
- A Citizens Commission on Public Health should be created for every jurisdiction in which the senior executive leader of that jurisdiction has authority to issue shelter-in-place or other similar lockdown orders.
The need is to take both pressure and too much responsibility/authority from single decision-makers, and bring greater transparency to such Impactful decisions.
Even though governors and mayors and the like presumably have consulted extensively with experts and advisors before making decisions during the 2020 pandemic, too much of the consultation has not been visible to the public. And when both the Nevada and Michigan governors act to outlaw or restrict access to an apparently promising drug because it was encouragingly commented upon by a President of a different political party who they hate, that is an outcome that is unacceptable and even dangerous to the health of citizens.
Partisanship may never be completely eliminated from public health decisions, but review by a Citizens Commission can help protect against medically irrational decisions made on the basis of politics.
- Each Citizens Commission should be comprised not only of local healthcare professionals, but also of representatives of large employers, small businesses, churches and families within the jurisdiction. Commission size can vary as determined by the preferences of the people in the jurisdiction.
Americans are awakening to the reality that the shutdown of the economy is itself a form of public health risk. Lost jobs, income, savings—these also affect health and well-being. When suicides outpace deaths from COVID-19, things are out of whack.
Medical professionals assessing virus dangers represent one input to public health decisions, and an important one, but it is painfully and increasingly clear that they cannot be the only input. Maybe a Citizens Commission would agree that deference must be given to the medical input; maybe it wouldn’t. But a balance of perspectives is essential if restrictions on the freedom of everyone in the jurisdiction are involved.
- Healthcare data and recommendations presented to the Citizens Commission and from which it is to evaluate the nature of the public health risk must come from at least four independent national or regional sources.
Dallas County in Texas has been under a shelter-in-place order that was based on a single source of data from a transparently partisan, out-of-state group. That doesn’t mean this data should not be considered; but it does mean that once a Citizens Commission is called to review healthcare data, there must be more than one source. There must be cross-checking and vetting of multiple data sources. The impact of these decisions is far too sweeping to be based on a single source of data.
- A decision to extend the duration of any freedom-restricting orders should require a super-majority vote of the Citizens Commission.
Freedom should be restored as the top priority value in America; it should not be easy to take it away.
And if the super-majority vote cannot be obtained, the original emergency order lapses and cannot be unilaterally renewed or reinstated by the single executive. The single executive can only call for another hearing before the Citizens Commission.
Would these recommendations meet with both howling support and opposition? Absolutely, and that’s as it should be in the democracy portion of our Constitutional Republic.
Would elites and ‘experts’ scream that there must be centralized power and authority to deal with public health crises that the average Joe just can’t comprehend? Of course they would.
But America was not founded on the basis that the citizens defer to a ruling class of elites and experts. American citizens can listen to them or not listen to them, but they are a self-governing people who honor individual sovereignty as the rule, government control as the exception.
It’s time to have this debate in all its contentiousness, and it’s time to have it relative to specific proposals that are not about the personalities holding the executive positions, but about the substance of the issues. The paralyzing restrictions on freedom in response to the 2020 pandemic are destroying this country, and the American people did not consent to them.
And while we’re at it, let’s call the initiative “Citizens Recourse Against Panicked Government Officials”. The acronym has potential.
Eric Georgatos and wife Debbie operate the America, Can We Talk? media platform, with 4 day a week video podcasting by Debbie, and weekly written commentary, all centered around the importance and value of preserving America under her founding ideals.