Steve A. Stone
Dear Friends and Patriots,
I assume all of you saw videos of the protests in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and several other states against the continuance of COVID-19-related business shutdowns and other measures that restrict the movements and activities of everyday citizens. It wasnít enough in those states to just tank the economy and cause people to lose their livelihoods. That was terrible, but not as bad as the dictatorial edicts that criminalized activities guaranteed to each of us in our Constitution. Because you are my friends and I know youíre all patriots Iím certain I know what you think of those demonstrations. Youíre wondering if youíll have the opportunity to join such an event in your own state. After all, we havenít seen such enthusiastic displays of justifiable emotion since the heyday of the Tea Parties. We need such things. We always need to let our governments know when theyíve stepped over the line and are trampling on our rights.
Itís not a bit useful to question whether or not this pandemic was initiated on purpose. Itís also not useful to indulge in conjectures that involve the de-population movement, globalist agendas, Agenda 2030, or any of those other very real initiatives that appear to gain from the COVID-19 outbreak. Itís not that those conjectures and questions might not be valid, itís that we should focus more on fundamentals right now and save those other things for a time when we have enough evidence to sustain the arguments. Today little of that evidence exists.
The concerns we need to have, other than the obvious ones that ensure we donít get infected ourselves, should relate to the many lifestyle compromises weíve made and new constraints that have been imposed on us that diminish our individual freedoms. We need to be concerned first that such things might not be necessary, and second that our politicians would impose them at all.
It may seem obvious some limitations on our comings and goings were necessary, but were they? Perhaps it depends on where you are and never was a general need. We were confronted by images and news of the COVID-19 outbreaks in Italy and Spain. But, were the factors responsible for the severity of outbreaks in those nations replicated in the U.S.? Thereís plenty of evidence they werenít, and if our medical bigwigs at CDC and NIH had looked at the situation a bit harder, they might have figured that out. Thatís not to say certain places werenít bound to be problematic; they were. Cities with high population densities like New York City, San Francisco, and New Orleans should be expected to have a greater potential for rapid transmission of any pathogen. Then, there are the peculiarities of the pathogen itself. This one most affects those over 65 most, and especially those with particular underlying conditions. One interesting underlying condition that has recently become understood as relevant is obesity. Yes, my friends, itís true! If you want to predict a COVID-19 hot spot anytime in the future, you need to identify places with large populations of really fat people. If you consider the ďpreferredĒ characteristics, the target audience of the virus, and then consider the composition of individual cities, it might have been possible to predict where the hot spots were likely to be and focus mitigation efforts there. But our medical leaders decided it was a better strategy to beat COVID-19 with a sledge-hammer instead of applying intellect. They concentrated on a strategy of nationwide behavioral modifications to mitigate the spread of the virus, instead of closely examining the sick people to refine their understanding of who was most likely to end up dead. That sledge-hammer approach was all about us relinquishing rights.
It seems obvious there arenít many libertarians involved in managing this virus response. Almost any libertarian would have gathered up like-minded people and developed response strategies that ensured minimal effects on the personal liberties of any citizen. They would have started out with one given Ė all response actions considered would have to have either zero or a carefully considered and minimal negative effect on any liberty. If any idea was proposed that did have such an effect, it would have to be fully justified by facts and evidence, not unsubstantiated conjecture or unproven computer models.
I want to give a concrete example of the statements immediately above. Itís one consideration that could have easily been made, but wasnít. Any business that could engineer a workable solution to ensure the safety of its employees and customers should have been allowed to stay open. Is there any reason why dry cleaning businesses had to shut down when auto parts stores didnít? The whole notion of politicians deciding what is essential and what is not strikes me as laughable. Unfortunately, this time the joke is all on us.
Libertarians all believe in maximum freedom and liberty. We (yes, I am one) want any imposed constraint to be justified in ways that make sense and are obviously unavoidable. If we can conceive of a logical and less compromising alternative to any imposed constraints, our natural response is dissonance. We become increasingly unhappy and even rebellious. We shout, we write letters of protest, we march, we chant, and we make speeches. But, we donít ever resort to any sort of violence. There are no libertarians in ANTIFA or BLM. Libertarians donít break windows or burn buildings. We libertarians donít assault our adversaries. But, we do seek legal redress of our grievances. And we want to be heard.
There are many kinds of libertarians. This isnít a tutorial on the philosophy, so I wonít describe all the many schools of thought that define adherents. Instead, Iíll tell you the things that bind such a diverse tribe. First and foremost is the appreciation for freedom and liberty. All libertarians place maximum importance in maintaining as much freedom and as many liberties are possible, though some are content to accept some very minor compromises. All libertarians also adhere to the exact same principle that guides their responses to the world Ė the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). All libertarians believe freedom is natural and intrinsic Ė that weíre all born perfectly and totally free. All libertarians believe governments have the ability to take freedom away and to constrain liberties, but they have no ability to give those to you. You already own them as your birthright. These are key points of libertarian philosophy. The NAP is universally appreciated, but not necessarily in exactly the same way. Some libertarians take it quite literally and eschew all forms of aggression, even to the point of self-destruction. Most others are less rigid and make allowances for self-defense and defense of family and property.
Libertarians are being driven to distraction by the way this COVID-19 response has been done. The social distancing thing wasnít really a problem, but when governments ordered mandatory business closures, then followed up with even more draconian measures, things began to get serious. A lot of libertarians are atheists, but even they were aghast that several state governors effectively closed all churches and restricted gatherings to ten or less people, and even to two. So much for the First Amendment!
Weíve all seen videos of religious leaders being arrested for holding Sabbath services, even when those services were held outside. Weíve seen church attendees targeted and fined for attempting to exercise their God-given and First Amendment-ratified right to worship as they please Ė even when they were doing so while in their family car. Weíve heard of edicts that prevent neighbors from helping neighbors or that prevent people from going out on the beach, traveling to and occupying vacation property on weekends, and even buying bedding plants or seeds for their gardens. There are towns that will fine homeowners for going outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine in their own yards. Weíve all read of state mandates that require closures of businesses determined as non-essential, while others remain open. We now see clothing stores and schools closed, while Planned Parenthood, weed shops, and liquor stores remain open. The natural question that any libertarian asks is, ďHow much of this is necessary and how much is just government overreach?Ē The simple truth is Ė unless thereís an actual, proven medical need, those measures cannot be justified as necessary. Theyíre overreach at least, and possible evidence of worse – a pathological need for power over others. To this libertarian, such an exercise of political/police power constitutes a violation of the NAP, and is especially abhorrent.
In my first paragraph I mentioned Tea Parties. Iím a long-time Tea Party member. I never thought of it before, but it could be I joined up and stayed a member because I recognize something about my friends who are alongside me in my organization. Whether or not they think of themselves as such, they all are very much libertarian in their beliefs and actions. Like me, theyíre lovers of our nationís Declaration of Independence and Constitution and believe those two documents are designed to give legal recognition to all our natural rights. Like me, they are non-violent in all respects except for occasions of threats to life or property. Theyíre great people.
One question I constantly get asked regards how I can be a libertarian and a member of the Republican Party. If you read carefully, you already have an idea of my response. For those who still havenít grasped it, libertarianism is a philosophy I live by. Itís not a complicated one, either. That fits me to a ďT,Ē because I dislike anything that complicates my life. Being a Republican is how I express my political views. In times like now, that causes me to be a bit conflicted.
Today Iím conflicted over the COVID-19 response. I believe President Trump was purposefully led to a road and told it was the only one that would lead to safety. He allowed himself to be convinced. He believed he didnít have time to wait for evidence as it matured. Of course, President Trump is a man of action and might not have waited in any case. Thereís also the fact that this is an election year, when everything he says and does will be heavily criticized. And, donít forget, no matter what happens, itís always Trumpís fault in the mainstream media. I have to consider that President Trump was dealt an especially bad hand in a deadly game of viral poker. Heís been playing that hand the best way he can, believing in the end heís going to win. If he wins, itís because we won.
The last hand of this poker game will involve the restoration of our civil rights. We all have to be vigilant to ensure that happens. If you harbor any doubts about that, consider making yourself a sign that says something like ďI DEMAND MY RIGHTSĒ and join others in a public demonstration. A libertarian would do that. I will do that. Will you?
Steve© Steve A. Stone
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