A serious but comparatively brief struggle with Covid, thanks to a great doctor and a nurse, was for me just as mental as it was physical. The physical struggle wasn’t easy. Chills, nausea, constant twitching pain and perspiring throughout the night never are.

Even so, it wasn’t the physical side of the struggle that made me toss and turn at night. Medicine eventually assuaged that. Nor was it worry. It was the steady pondering of what Covid, or the handling thereof, is doing to us. The hectoring and condescension from medical experts has been bad enough but, more importantly, political leaders have injected us with fear, violated our constitutional freedoms, and weakened the rugged American spirit of which the typical 20-year-old knows so little. It wasn’t this way with polio.

My earliest knowledge of the children killer came from my parents, the radio, and daily newspapers. The Truman administration addressed polio though “shelter in place” was unheard of. Quarantining was urged and some shutdowns existed, but consult any studies of polio from 1949 to 1952 (its peak year) and you’ll find that the terrifying disease was managed primarily through a private system of health professionals and parental responsibility. Caution was advised by Truman himself, but especially by local medical leaders everywhere. Not everything was run from D.C. back then.

In 1950 when a younger brother of mine contracted diphtheria, my family was quarantined by the county health department. For neither diphtheria nor polio, however, were widespread lockdowns required. A cloud of concern hung over the nation, but the closing down of the economy, the destruction of livelihoods, and restraints on public worship were also unheard of.

With Covid, political leaders have essentially followed a society-wide plan of lockdowns. During the 4-year polio epidemic individual liberty, free enterprise, and livelihoods survived. This cannot be said of our management of Covid. Dashed is still the word for many Americans’ lives. Our solution has been unabashed socialism. Before handing out stimulus checks, it would have been wise to consider the bad things that a stimulus can stimulate. By many accounts hospitals are having a banner year, thanks to the CARES Act.

Covid has been tragic, but neither wellness nor renewed faith in government will ever flow from unilateral decrees, restriction of personal movement, or blatant attacks on freedom of worship. I fear a changed America and a new age of tyranny far more than I fear disease, death, or dying.

A changed America – one given to fear and acquiescence – is dawning primarily because we have listened only to celebrity medical experts (repeatedly) while ignoring the 50,000 medical doctors and researchers who signed the Great Barrington Declaration. Penned in October of 2020 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts this declaration advised strategy far less suppressive than that of the celebrity experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci. It was co-authored by medical scientists and epidemiologists from Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, not exactly conspiratorial fringe institutions. If you’ve never heard of the Declaration, it could be because CNN, MSNBC, and the liberal national newspapers cancelled it, only one example of suppressed news these days.

As with Covid and medicine, so with immigration and California. Both have been used as political tools. From the end of WWII to 1992 Californians voted for only one Democratic president. In 1980 California produced a very conservative president, Ronald Reagan. Despite his conservatism Reagan ignited, surely unwittingly, California’s movement from a conservative to a liberal state. By signing the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Reagan afforded amnesty and a path to citizenship to 3 million illegals. Who’da thunk that RR himself just two years later would sign another law requiring hospitals to give free care regardless of immigration status?

Of course illegals came and California changed just as, to the joy of Democrats, the nation is changing now. Idyllic California is no more. According to National Review magazine an exodus is occurring because “California is a mess economically, socially, educationally, and culturally.” Should we not ask why? The answer is governance and the evil aims and methods behind it. Just as the answer for Covid has been centralism and control, so has the governance of California, for two decades now.

My nights of troubled pondering centered not on our collective pain and suffering from Covid but on the acquiescence of American citizens to things most un-American: tyrannical governors, arbitrary rules and mandates, and the scary, increasing, mistaken belief that Big Brother knows best.

Sickness is far easier to overcome than tyranny, and tyranny is what we seem to be falling for. The good news is that within two years voters just might demand a great correction. Let us so pray. What we call America is at stake.

Roger Hines is a retired English teacher and state legislator who lives in Kennesaw.

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