My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. I would add to the below the cruel order from yesterday that we can’t visit out loved ones in a nursing home even if we are just standing outside looking through a window. Every day, we wake up to learn what edict has been issued from the pen of the tyrant in Madison. Go get a copy!
It is impossible to understate how incompetent our governor has been in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Evers is lurching from idiotic policy to unconstitutional power grab. Meanwhile, the people of Wisconsin are losing their liberties and their livelihoods.
As the coronavirus spread across the nation, Governor Evers declared a public health emergency on March 12 and seized dictatorial powers. This is something that the Legislature has empowered the governor to do in the event of an emergency so that the state government can be nimble and responsive to help the people. Evers has used the power to crush the state’s economy, strip people of their rights, and clumsily swing the heavy hammer of government.
For a few days after the declaration, Evers used his powers to organize a response and marshal resources. When asked on March 20 whether Wisconsin would order people to stay home like other states, Evers said that he did not think it would be necessary. Three days later, Evers announced on Twitter that an order was coming, after all, to lock down the state. To this day, Evers has not been able to coherently articulate what changed in those three days to justify the lockdown order.
The rollout of the order was absurd. Evers said a lockdown order was coming, but did not disclose any details. After a day of confusion and speculation, he released the draconian lockdown order on March 24 with a short grace period for implementation. The order itself is vague is many areas, leaving Evers to issue clarification after clarification ever since.
Many provisions in the order do not even make sense and are utterly unreasonable. For example, golf courses were closed, but parks were open. Both involve small groups walking around outside. Then Evers closed the state parks “indefinitely” too because he thought that too many people were actually using them.
Last week we actually had to have the governor tell us how we are allowed to worship for Easter. For the record, we could worship inside the church as long as there were less than 10 people in the room. Or we could worship in our cars, but not outside if we were out of our cars. Sit back and reflect for a moment on how un-American it is that we must follow worship instructions from the governor or risk fines and arrest.
Then the governor tried to usurp an election. We knew for weeks that holding an election during a pandemic posed unusual risks. Up until the Thursday before the election, Evers and the Republican leadership agreed that the election should continue as planned, but with sensible precautions. On Friday before the election, Evers called a special session of the Legislature to delay the election for two months. Evers said that he did not have the power to do it himself and that the Legislature must act.
Being so close to the election and not wanting to sow confusion, the Legislature declined to move the election on Saturday. On Monday, the day before the election, Evers issued an order to move the election. The Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled him within hours. It turned out that Evers was right after all. He did not have the power. Consider how un-American it would be to allow a single man to arbitrarily decide when, or if, the people are allowed to elect their leaders.
Through it all, Evers’ ham handed incompetence of the issue created confusion, disrupted the election, and undermined the process by which we govern ourselves. As we learn the results of that election this week, there will always be doubt about whether or not the result is actually the will of the people. Self-governance does not work when people lose faith in the process by which we select our government.
Now the state is facing the highest unemployment rate in history, businesses are shuttering for good, and people are being hassled by law enforcement for daring to leave their homes, Governor Evers cannot even tell us if it is working, or when it might end. Governor Evers has not given any indication of when, or how, Wisconsin will get back to work. There is no plan. We find ourselves waiting like subjects for our king to tell us when we can work, play, or enjoy our freedoms.
Governor Evers has shown why we should never allow one man to have such power. Whether through incompetence or malice, he has engaged in unprecedented oppression and laid waste to the state’s economy. The Legislature must step in, rein in the governor’s mad romp, and provide the people of Wisconsin a reasonable plan to combat coronavirus. That plan should be rooted in preserving our liberties and way of life as our government provides guidance and resources to combat the disease.
It is clear that Governor Evers does not have a coherent plan. He staggers from reaction to revulsion seemingly without clarity of purpose. As the people’s body, the Legislature must step up and act where our governor has failed.
Finally, the Legislature must provide a plan for how the state will restart our economy very soon. Coronavirus is here to stay, but we must go on. Life will be a little different as we mitigate the spread, but we must go on. People will continue to get ill and some will die, but we must go on. We have dealt with dangerous diseases before. We must go on.