A great social and psychological experiment is at hand here in the United States. Since March, a variety of shutdowns, lock-downs, crackdowns and travel restrictions have swept across all 50 states with governors leading the charge. Basic liberties and constitutional rights many have come to take for granted have been pushed, stretched and then totally eliminated before our very eyes.
We’ve watched as fathers in the park, lone paddle-boarders, church pastors and others are being arrested for the crime of being outside their homes for a “non-essential” reason. We’ve watched as the psychological impact of the shutdowns has taken root across the country, economic anxiety spiking and suicide hotlines experiencing a surge in the volume of calls. Anyone interested in the study of human behavior couldn’t have dreamt of a better large-scale experiment. How would millions of people react to shortages at the grocery store, restriction of gatherings and travel, arrests and fines for basic activities, closures of churches and businesses and large-scale loss of income? How much will one formerly free nation accept? What if, in addition to loss of liberty, you added in massive social pressure? Gone is yesterday’s worn-out slur of ‘racist’ to silence their neighbors’ healthy skepticism of government, it has been replaced with the newer, more effective accusation that anyone who questions the constitutionality of the daily-changing edicts wants people to die. What better way to reduce the need for police state-style enforcement when you can control millions with guilt by weaponizing the good will they have towards their fellow citizens?
Yes, those in power are learning quite quickly how little difference there is between many Americans today and the German people of the 1930’s and 40’s. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” Do enough of our fellow citizens preserve that spirit? Are we warning our rulers? We shall soon find out, but there are glimmers of revolution popping up around the country.
In Ohio, protestors gathered at the state house to protest the recent stay-at-home and other economic restrictions, carrying signs reading “My Constitutional rights are essential,” “A free people in a pandemic are still a free people” and others. In Michigan, a grassroots quarantine protest group on Facebook grew from a couple thousand to nearly 200,000 members less than 48 hours following Governor Whitmer’s extension of the state’s stay-at-home order and further restrictions on the purchase of items not considered “essential,” including seeds, gardening supplies and even infant car seats. Two protests are set to take place in the capital, Lansing, later this month. In the state of Wyoming, a small demonstration took place, where protestors urged Governor Gordon to let the state return to work. Will these protests be enough? Will this spark ignite a movement across the country? Will Americans allow their freedoms, their livelihood and their sacred founding documents to be sacrificed upon the altar of COVID-19 without a whisper?
Make no mistake, those in positions of power and influence are watching carefully, and it is not only the trajectory of the virus they have their eyes on. They are watching us, how we react, how we comply, what liberties we will exchange for safety, whether any among us still “preserve the spirit of resistance.”
And they are taking notes.
Anna Timmer is a Michigan-based writer, business owner, political activist and host of the “Called to Liberty” podcast.
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Podcast: Called to Liberty