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(OPINION) ‘Do Your Part’ or ‘Live Free’: Which is More American?

Author: Sergei Kelley

There are two sides in response to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent government action. “Do your part” assumes it is best to follow government measures. It calls Americans to wear a mask, stay home, and abide by the rants of America’s Karens. Others are more rebellious and skeptical of the government. This has been exemplified by Californians disobeying beach restrictions and thousands participating in “operation gridlock” in Michigan’s Capitol.

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The “do your part” crowd sees government authority as effective and a necessary precursor to disseminating expert advice. The “Live Free” group is far more concerned with the government having unauthorized power to deem what is and what is not essential.

Both sides, composed of moderates and radicals, agree we must protect life. However, there is blatant hypocrisy with pro-choice Americans fighting to keep abortion clinics open in the face of the virus. But overall, we can agree, no average American wants someone to die from the coronavirus. Establishing this baseline is productive to continued discussion on how we reopen our country.

The most significant difference between the sides isn’t protecting life, but how America should be reopened. The authority of the government during a pandemic is where Americans split. The government’s tyrannical power through lockdowns and business closure is hurting Americans, not helping them. Calls into suicide hotlines are up, mental health is down, and depression has increased with unemployment.

Lockdowns are not working. Not only are they exacerbating other health concerns, but they are also just being ignored. The longer orders have been in place, more people have ignored them. Michigan, one of the states with the highest restrictions and 59,000 total cases, received an ‘A’ for social distancing in March but has fallen to an ‘F’ according to Unacast data. California, another state with high restrictions, moved between a ‘B’ and ‘C’ between March and April and is currently at a ‘D-.’

In both states, social distancing has decreased since orders have been declared. 

The failure of lockdowns and tyrannical government measures by increasing poor mental health and depression, along with a decrease in legitimacy, make the argument it is better to ‘Live Free.’ Fewer restrictions would’ve been more compassionate, as mental health would’ve stayed stronger and business destruction would’ve been lower.

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Healthline reported on May 8, “Americans are reporting more symptoms and signs of depression, anxiety, and fear than historic norms” since the start of the pandemic. Further, the “increase has been sustained for several weeks.” Women and people with pre-existing conditions have shown greater fear and anxiety.

Dr. Mike deBoisblanc of the John Muir Medical Center in California told ABC7 in late May, “I mean we've seen a year's worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks." Nearly half of Americans say coronavirus is negatively impacting their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted March 25-30.

Government orders are becoming less effective, but does that mute the ability to ‘Do your part’? No. Across America, from stores reopening or stores which were never closed, many, if not most, have taken preventative health measures against coronavirus. This includes wearing masks, encouraging others to wear masks, and practicing social distancing.

Simply enough, people care about protecting lives and will voluntarily take health measures and encourage others. The government should help inform, and may recommend, but should it jail people who don’t obey? Conversely, if individuals can voluntarily wear masks or practice social distancing, it can also be done and encouraged by businesses.

The ability of people and businesses to be autonomous and operate the way they see fit, without arbitrary or overextended government interference, doesn’t void the interest to protect life during the coronavirus pandemic. The ‘Live Free’ argument is more American because America is about freedom!

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