21 May 2020

NOTE FROM NORM: No Virus or Governor Can Quarantine our Freedom

In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, like many Governors around the country – Democrat and Republican – rose to the challenge and prescribed detailed steps that were intended to “flatten the curve” and buy time for our health care systems to absorb the predicted tsunami of COVID-19 cases.

But that was then, and this is now.

The same Governor who gave Minnesotans the perception that he had a firm hand on the rudder is now a Governor who has clearly lost his way.

He has succumbed to his base political instincts, deferred important policy matters to ideological priorities and left hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans hanging by a thread to their economic livelihood.

On the heels of he and his party’s ramming through a pay increase for the state’s public employees – employees who have remained employed and paid while hundreds of thousands of other Minnesotans have not – the Governor snatched a lifeline from those desperate to stay afloat.

Rather than putting forward a clear and detailed plan for how we re-open our entire state with commonsense, purpose and safety measures that will protect lives as well as jobs, the Governor made it clear that Minnesota businesses will largely stay closed.

Owners of bars and restaurants expecting to see their business re-open on June 1st were given surprising and devastating news.

Instead of being given strategies and tactics to allow customers back into their businesses – employees back to their jobs – they were told the only way they will open for business is if they serve customers outside.

Yet for most of these businesses, they lack the ability to physically accommodate such an operation.

Even if they could most will lack local permits to be able to do so and likely would not be able to get one anytime soon.

This is no longer a Governor with a clear-eyed strategy and plan of action to re-open Minnesota and put Minnesotans back to work.

This is a Governor not willing to listen to anyone other than his closed circle of advisors – and the “experts.”

That none of those advisors or “experts” are small business owners, or the employees of those operations who have lost their jobs, is obviously irrelevant to the Governor.

We are being told of false choices.

That we should be ashamed for wanting a haircut – or a hamburger – or a beer.

That our desire to have any of those things is putting other people’s lives in danger.

Here’s the truth:  The Governor had a choice that didn’t require putting forward false choices that pit Minnesotans against one another.

Rather than the path that would have brought Minnesotans together he has created one that moves us further apart.

The hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans who lost their jobs – the bars and restaurants that closed their doors – these people – our neighbors – our friends and our families – they have real bills to pay and real lives to live.

This is not a selfish working class looking out for themselves and putting the lives of everyone else at risk.

I am sick and tired of the moralizing tone of those who dismiss the fears of their fellow Minnesotans and insist – in fact, demand – that they just shut up and take it and quit complaining.

Governor Walz failed to have a plan to re-open Minnesota.

In doing so, he has failed hundreds of thousands of unemployed Minnesotans, and tens of thousands of small business owners, who expected he would be just as aggressive in re-opening Minnesota as he was in closing it.

I’m stunned that he would advocate for raises for public employees and then pull the rug out from under hundreds of thousands of other Minnesotans.

We are seeing a Governor who has declared that it is okay to gather by the hundreds in big box stores to buy plywood and patio furniture but it isn’t okay to gather in houses of worship to celebrates one’s faith.

Governor Walz, emboldened by an Attorney General who is ready and willing to threaten and bully his fellow Minnesotans with lawsuits and fines, demands that Minnesotans follow his orders – or else.

Or else what?

The Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Bernard Hebda, and other religious leaders have already made it clear that the Governor doesn’t hold a power greater than that of their G-d in announcing public masses will resume next week.

In a statement the Archbishop and other religious leaders stated that the Governor’s most recent order “…does not address both the vital importance that faith plays in the lives of Americans, especially in this time of pandemic, and the fundamental religious freedom…We can safely resume public Masses in accordance with both our religious duties and with accepted public health and safety standards.”

Is it possible this Governor will allow the Attorney General to sue religions and their leaders if they swing open the doors of their churches, mosques, and synagogues to allow the faithful to worship and celebrate their faith?

What if hundreds and thousands of Minnesota bars and restaurants chose to defy the dictates of the Governor this Memorial Day Weekend and allowed customers to gather – safely  — and rehired tens of thousands of unemployed Minnesotans to serve them?

Is this kind of Civil Disobedience to be allowed in Governor Walz’s Minnesota or will the heavy hand of government continue to deprive hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

The Governor had months to prepare a plan of action to guide the re-opening of Minnesota.

He has failed to do so.

Because he has failed to do so he has defaulted to emergency powers he believes empowers him to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it.

Worse yet, he has made it clear he will use the full power of the government, including retaliation from the Attorney General, to do so.

There exists no President or Governor who has the power to deprive hard working, law abiding Americans of their rights under the Constitution.

As we begin to prepare to honor those brave Americans who fought and died for our nation this Memorial Day Weekend let us not forget what exactly it is they fought and died to protect.

Our freedom.

They did so while under a pandemic fire of warfare and tyrants and despots who threatened their very existence and way of life.

There is no virus, or Governor, that can permanently quarantine our freedom.