RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that he’s decided North Carolina can enter phase one of his tepid reopening plan after the current lockdown order expires on May 8. The announcement itself was more eventful than the actual changes to come. As Cooper emphasized, it doesn’t mean that the Stay-at-Home order is going away, just that it will be modified to give certain groups and businesses slightly more freedom.
Phase one is of little comfort to the one million North Carolinians who’ve lost their jobs due to these orders, or the business owners whose livelihoods still get strangled under this benevolent diktat, or the citizens who know these orders were wrong from the start.
Why is it that the governor does not trust North Carolinians to take ownership of their own lives, instead insisting on his progressive brand of government paternalism? That’s what his 2020 opponent, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest is wondering, and he’s calling out Cooper for denying citizens the right to make decisions for themselves.
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“The Governor’s Phase 1 rollout makes it clear that he feels that only he can protect us from this virus. He does not believe that North Carolinians have enough self-control, restraint, or common sense to act responsibly in a world with COVID-19.
While his announcement finally recognized that all jobs are essential, his new order changes very little across our state. For a state that prides itself on being ‘First in Freedom,’ the Governor has repeatedly denied North Carolinians the freedom to make decisions for themselves, their families, and their livelihoods.
I understand completely the cautious approach that he and governors around the country took two months ago, when there was so much uncertainty around how this virus could attack someone. However, with all the data publicly available from other states, there is no need to continue using fear to drive policy decisions.
When we have over one million citizens on unemployment (with less than half of those receiving benefits), countless medical surgeries and screenings delayed, and businesses on the brink of permanent closure, it is time to do everything possible to give people a chance to live and utilize their God-given freedom once again. If we are able to social distance outside at parks, why are we not able to do the same in outdoor seating at restaurants? If we are able to congregate at 50% capacity in a big box store, why can we not do the same with social distancing at our houses of worship? It is way past due for the Governor to shift strategies and put measures in place that restore our freedoms in a responsible manner.”
Consider the alarming precedent that has now been set for giving up freedoms in the face of some intangible collective threat. Consider that the governor is literally barring people from attending church services, engaging in commerce, or making it a crime to be standing to close to another person.
To those that are still employed, still financially stable, and haven’t been too disrupted by the lockdown policies, these concerns may seem superficial. However, the damage done to the premise that undergirds our Republic cannot be overstated.
The elections later this year offer some stark contrasts in how those transgressions are treated. Cooper and the Democrats would welcome the opportunity to promote collectivism at the expense of the Constitution and unalienable rights; Forest would accept the challenge of restoring and reinforcing those rights and the governing documents that codified them.
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