Last March, “fifteen days to slow the spread” sounded quite reasonable. The COVID-19 pandemic was raging through Italy and it had come to the United States. Lockdowns began as a voluntary movement to limit the spread of a deadly virus. As “fifteen days” became months, however, government officials issued public health mandates to restrict citizens’ freedom of movement, freedom to engage in business, and freedom of worship. On the pretext of fighting an emergency, they seized a temporary power and extended it. Some power-hungry leaders — like Govs. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) — struggled to hold on to this power for as long as possible.
Now, with COVID-19 largely in check thanks to historic vaccine efforts, the public appetite for more lockdowns is rather non-existent (and certain studies suggest the lockdowns may have done more harm than good, even for fighting COVID). But the fear-mongers in the Democratic Party have discovered other “public health” emergencies that justify extreme government intrusion into the lives of citizens.
On Tuesday, Cuomo declared a “disaster emergency” that skirts the state legislature in the name of fighting “a public health crisis,” in this case, “gun violence.”
While Cuomo’s declaration did not coincide with a new lockdown, it did come with a new government bureaucracy, millions in funding, and a new police force to fight the “flood of illegal guns that come into New York from states with weak gun safety laws.”
Tragically, New York is experiencing a tragic uptick in gun violence and violent crime of all kinds — following the year-long vilification of police and support for violent rioters after the death of George Floyd. While violent crime does threaten the health of the public, it is not a “public health crisis” in the sense that legislatures intended when they crafted emergency powers.
Yet Cuomo twisted the basic logic of a “public health crisis” to circumvent the legislature and launch new bureaucratic action. If the problem worsens, who’s to say he won’t start imposing a curfew? If violence intensifies, he may even launch into new lockdowns.
Gun lockdowns may be unlikely, but consider another cause célèbre for which Democrats would disregard Americans’ freedom: climate change. Democrats have been fear mongering about the climate for decades, and the Chicken Little predictions prove false over and over again. While it stands to reason that carbon emissions may impact the global climate, the global climate is simply too complex for accurate measurement and prediction. Whatever impact carbon emissions have, the alarmism is unwarranted.
Yet many on the Left continue to insist that the world is doomed without significant decreases in carbon emissions, and that perspective led them to celebrate at least one side effect of the lockdowns — a rapid decrease in those hated carbon emissions.
If Democrats continue the logic of Andrew Cuomo’s “public health” emergency declaration on guns — a logic to which President Joe Biden has himself pointed — they may declare the “climate crisis” a “public health” emergency, an excuse for restrictions, runs around Congress, and perhaps even new lockdowns. Democrats in Congress have filed a bill to declare a national emergency on climate, and it seems unlikely the idea will die there.
As Democrats become even more fed up with the fact that the American Constitution does not easily bend to their immediate will and fear mongering, they may become increasingly desperate. If Republicans do indeed win a majority in the House or the Senate in 2022, a lame-duck Biden may take the “pen-and-phone” governance of his predecessor to an extreme logical conclusion.
Before 2020, it seemed utterly ridiculous to suggest that Americans would voluntarily surrender many of their freedoms in fighting a pandemic. Even now, climate lockdowns seem somewhat fanciful. But the Left is so certain about the truth of climate change — and so frustrated at the very idea of dissent on the issue — that many elites would probably support climate lockdowns, especially if the pesky voters do not deliver resounding wins for Democrats.
Cuomo tested the waters on Tuesday. His dangerous idea gives climate alarmists the template they need to launch the climate lockdowns. This terrifying possibility is not as unlikely as it might appear.