On May 15, city officials declared Atwater, California a “sanctuary city.” Not for undocumented immigrants, but for businesses and churches who choose to ignore governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19-related shutdown orders. The city won’t be enforcing the governor’s edicts. Those edicts, mayor Paul Creighton told local businesses, are “between you and the state of California.”
“We’re not going to tolerate people starting to congregate,” mayor Bill de Blasio whined all the way across the country in New York City, center of the country’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak so far. Even as he spoke, crowds descended on area beaches and congregated for sidewalk soirees outside bars forbidden to do sit-down business but selling cocktails to go.
About the same time, I heard a store owner in my part of Florida explain to a customer that while there is in fact a county order (posted on every business enterprise’s door) requiring customers to wear masks inside stores, “I’m not a county enforcer.” Some customers wore masks. Some didn’t. Most stores I visited obviously had the same policy, whether they announced it quite so brazenly or not.
Americans, it seems, are collectively deciding among ourselves that COVID-19 lockdown time is over. Our decision isn’t up for debate or subject to appeal. Politicians and their pet “experts” are fresh out of veto power. For better or worse — almost certainly some of both — America is opening back up.
On the plus side, the economy, although taking a hit, may be cranking back up in time to avert severe food shortages and other potentially deadly supply chain problems this coming fall and winter.
On the minus side, the virus is still out there. We’re almost certainly going to see new outbreaks and spikes in old outbreak centers as time goes on.
A side effect of those outbreaks and spikes will be calls for renewed lockdowns. Those may even happen in a scattered way at the local level.
But America’s Andrew Cuomos and Gretchen Whitmers and Gavin Newsoms presumably know that their political futures — and maybe even their physical safety — are on the line here and that they’re fresh out of shenanigans passes. There won’t be any more state-level Mussolini cosplay.
The Iron Curtain was drawn tightly shut for 45 years.
The Berlin Wall stood for three decades.
Lockdown America didn’t even make it to the three-month mark.
That’s a good thing. It’s a harbinger of hope for a freer future.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:@thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north-central Florida.