UPDATE February 2, 2020: Americans win back their freedom from loyalist Democrats
On Friday, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin threw in the towel on dumping Trump with a press release that stated:
The Senate impeachment jury has been terminated by Senator McConnell and his loyalists, but the ultimate jury of American voters will have the last word in November.23
The loyalist slight was a consistent theme throughout these tawdry proceedings. Durbin speaks of “the truth,” but the truth is this was the culmination of a doomed Democratic loyalist effort that started years ago.
Give Durbin credit for relegating the president’s fate to the “jury of American voters” (see the January 25, 2020 update). The future of this presidency should never have left that most important public forum. Democratic Party loyalists tried to wrench an election away from Republican voters because they didn’t like the outcome. That’s not how freedom works.
Nancy Pelosi should understand this too, but instead she holds firm that a Senate trial is meaningless unless she gets what she wants:
Well, he will not be acquitted. You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial, and you don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation and that.24
Score one gargantuan loss for the speaker and an even bigger win for this fundamental freedom owed the American voter. Durbin, Pelosi, and their liberal loyalist cohorts will have to wait until November for Trump’s final acquittal from the ballot box.
UPDATE February 17, 2020: no freedom to drive without state interference
Why does this discussion on Democrats stealing our freedom keep circling back to Illinois? Because our state is masterful at finding innovative new ways to trade freedom for desperately needed revenue.
Driving in Chicago area traffic is a commuter nightmare thanks to road construction, accidents, potholes, threatening traffic laws, rising gas taxes, bullets flying on the freeway, and the pay as you drive iPass system.
A Chicago Democrat just introduced a confusing bill in Springfield that will make the situation worse.
The new intrusion on our freedom to be left alone without the government interfering comes from ridiculous Illinois HB4571, the Gas Station Attendant Act. If passed, the gas pumping bill mandates that:
no gas may be pumped at a gas station in this State unless it is pumped by a gas station attendant employed at the gas station.25
Should we laugh or cry? State Rep. Camille Lilly’s bill is only a few sentences long and contains no details. If the bill ever passes, my suspicion is that the state will use it to license gas station attendants for some extra revenue and perhaps tack on an “attendant’s tax” at the pump. There is no mention of that, though. Rep. Lilly’s explanation that the legislation “is not intended to pass as is” but will create jobs and “convenience at the pump”26 makes even less sense. We already spend enough time circling filling station parking lots trying to find an empty slot. Adding another person between drivers and the gas pump won’t make the situation better.
The Illinois Policy Institute lists27the various ways state government has made our freedom to drive an expensive endeavor. Taxes and fees that increased by $1.9 billion in 2019 alone.28 In a state that prides itself on being progressive these are some of the most regressive of ways to extract money from residents. When driving becomes more expensive we drive less and that impinges on our freedom. That cost can be measured in dollars and cents, in time spent waiting in traffic backups, or in the case of HB4571 waiting for our turn in line at the pump.
UPDATE March 3, 2020: freedom to vote without fear in a primary election
The Illinois primary is March 17, 2020. That means we have to declare our party out loud, in a line of people, to get the correct ballot. I never thought about it before this year, but after hearing about the latest incident of political violence directed at a Trump-supporting teenager who was slapped at a New Hampshire polling place I have to wonder: do I really want to announce that I am a Republican to a crowd of people? Will I be dragged out into the polling place parking lot and beaten within an inch of my life because my
political affiliation means I endorse a Democrat-proclaimed hateful agenda?
Not likely, but why should this thought even cross my mind and how many other voters wonder the same thing?
There is a hyperlink list of political violence incidents against conservatives on the docs.house.gov website. There is no indication of where it came from, but the links lead back to the news articles for each incident cited. This list of negativity and outright attacks against conservatives is a shameful account of how the left uses the Trump presidency to take away our freedom.
In liberal, Democrats-only Illinois there is no foreseeable circumstance that would lead me to wear a MAGA hat in public. That’s a pretty sad statement about where we allowed our politics to lead us. For now that hat will have to sit proudly on my desk, away from the eyes of those who might do me harm because of it.
As to the primary, nothing keeps me from voting on Election Day, not even being a Republican in Illinois.
UPDATE March 20, 2020 1:00 p.m.: is this where our freedoms end?
A few weeks ago most, if not all of us were completely unfamiliar with the phrase “shelter in place.” Now everyone in America knows what it means. Considering the risk that’s behind it, we probably haven’t given a lot of thought to the consequences for our fundamental freedoms.
Shelter in place, statewide school and business shutdowns, and other coronavirus pandemic-era restrictions raise an ugly question we can’t ask right now. How much of what state and local government are doing is legal and constitutional?
That’s an issue scholars will still be fighting over many years from now, assuming our society is still here. America is under tremendous social and economic strain. An election just seven months away places enormous opportunity and damaging pressure on public officials trying to ameliorate the consequences of this gradually unfolding crisis.
California’s Democratic governor issued a shelter in place order for all state residents. New York City won’t be far behind if Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has his way. Illinois governor JB Pritzker shut down the schools, restaurants, and bars, but let the state’s recreational marijuana dispensaries stay open and held the state primary election on schedule. Inexplicably, Washington State has yet to take the same restrictive step as its southern neighbor California, though it is also afflicted with a vast number of COVID-19 cases.
These are judgment calls that only hindsight can evaluate. The capricious nature of these restrictive orders shows just how fragile our constitutional rights can be in a time of crisis. Our freedom to do something as simple as leaving our houses to visit with friends or attend a crowded church is so basic we don’t even think about it as one of the fundamental rights we enjoy as Americans. The Constitution protects these liberties, but what happens when protecting our individual liberty threatens the liberty and lives of others?
That’s a conundrum we won’t solve any time soon, if ever. The consent of the governed, that most-important American value that Democrats vow to protect from Trump, has become wholly irrelevant during a growing catastrophe that all but mandates that we give up our rights.
5:05 p.m.: New York joined California and Illinois with a new statewide restrictive order. That’s three Democratic governors and three states that can ill-afford the shutdown or the consequences for the business community of a virus our public health system is far from prepared for.
UPDATE April 13, 2020: we lost the freedom to just live our lives
As this crisis I won’t bother to name drags on public health authorities keep shortening the list of what we can do to stay safe. We’ve even been warned to limit tasks basic to our survival like trips to buy food and medicine. Any outside contact can mean death. That’s not a good place to find ourselves. Is the air poison? Is stepping outside too dangerous too even consider?Across the country officials are taking the next step and clamping down on our freedoms with no end in sight.
The Los Angeles Times reported on California’s extreme measures to contain COVID-19. They include criminal charges against businesses and punishing seemingly harmless activities like solitary paddle boarding.29 Rhode Island actively profiled and accosted New Yorkers seeking asylum from the virus. Fox 45 Baltimore reports that Maryland has arrested 14 people, issued 665 warnings, and nearly 15,000 “compliance checks” as of April 7, 2020.30
Maryland has a Republican governor, so to be fair to Democrats this appears to be a bipartisan issue. According to Texas’ Kerrville Daily Times,31 Republican Governor Greg Abbott also threatens $1,000 fines and jail time for failing to follow his COVID-19 orders that include cancelling all medical procedures that are deemed unnecessary.
What’s so disturbing about giving up our freedoms for this public health crisis is the ham-fisted, medieval approach to public safety. The people we elect to lead don’t know what to do so their solution is to separate, isolate, and enforce. If you have no contact with other people you can’t spread this bug, so as the bug spreads our freedoms slip away. The same approach would have worked in Europe in the plague-ridden 1300s if you kept the rats out of your abode, too.
With precious little hope being offered and threats of indefinite home confinement in lieu of a vaccine the freedoms we take for granted were all but erased in a few short months. That includes the most important freedom we have, the freedom to simply live our day-to-day lives and maybe eke out a little happiness in the process.
April 14, 2020: I don’t know how I failed to include Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in yesterday’s update. Rest assured no slight was intended. In fact, Governor Whitmer deserves more credit than anyone for so successfully clamping down on the freedoms of her state’s residents that she touched off a whopping big protest scheduled to take place in Lansing tomorrow.
After freedom our nation’s greatest claim to fame is the incredible success of our economy. That economic success is in jeopardy and our freedoms are disappearing one by one. The only surprise is that it took so long for the pushback to begin.
Like the coronavirus, this will spread until public officials come up with workable solutions to getting our country back online. These are the times that test their leadership abilities. Telling us to hide in our homes until they think it’s safe to come out isn’t good enough if it destroys everything that makes us what we are as Americans.
UPDATE April 24, 2020: our consent took away our freedoms
It’s not that I object to having my freedoms restricted because of a national crisis.
What I don’t like is not having a say in how it happens.
How many times over the past few years have we heard that Donald Trump is a threat to our democracy? Here’s a prime example to refresh your memory from Rep. Val Demings (D-FL):
“This president abused his power, jeopardizing our national security in an extortion scheme to cheat in the 2020 election. He continues to be an active and ongoing threat to our democracy.32
A few months later the people we elected because of that democracy have taken away so much of our liberty that the simple, basic freedom to move about in public is all but gone. As the Washington Examiner reports at least one county in Colorado is even threatening its residents with imprisonment, which is the ultimate denial of freedom, for not wearing a mask when shopping for groceries.
This is not to lay blame on public decision makers. Many, if not most are just as blindsided and even panicked as most Americans by what the coronavirus can do. Overreaction is understandable, but this is also a valuable lesson about how easily our freedoms can be taken away without our consent by the same people we gave consent to in the first place.
No matter whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you think this is a free country it’s time to rethink what that means. We’re a free country in good times. In bad, all bets are off for now.
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