In addition to killing thousands of Americans and robbing millions more of their livelihoods, the COVID-19 outbreak has evidently deprived the Democrats of their political judgment. At the national and state levels they have disregarded voter lockdown protests with the same disdain with which they ignored the Tea Party movement 10 years ago. The Democrats have clearly forgotten the price they paid for that blunder. Between 2010 and 2016 they lost Congress, 13 governorships, 816 state legislative seats, and finally the presidency. They regained some ground in 2018, but they won’t retain it if they don’t recognize the protests as the foreshock of an electoral earthquake.
The voters have been extraordinarily patient with stay-at-home orders imposed by their governors and willingly incurred enormous financial risk for the greater public good. Likewise, they have shown remarkable self-control as their lives have been upended by wildly inaccurate projections by overcautious Beltway bureaucrats. Now, they have had enough and and are hitting the street. Lockdown protests have expanded to at least 20 states, but Democratic governors have been encouraged to ignore them by cynical partisans like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). When asked by Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” if she could sympathize with the protesters, Madam Speaker answered in the negative:
No, not really, because what we have to do is shelter-in-place. That is really the answer.… I do think that it’s unfortunate — but you know people will do what they do. The fact is we’re all impatient. We all want out but what they’re doing is really unfortunate.… And so, does it serve as a distraction? Yes.
It’s absurd if not outright obscene for Pelosi to claim that “we’re all impatient,” as if everyone is suffering equally from the lockdowns. Few laid-off employees of retail clothing chains, coffee shops, and fitness centers can ameliorate their financial anxieties with an $11.60 pint of ice cream retrieved from a freezer that costs more than their cars. Nor can they put up with power-drunk decrees from Democratic governors like Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), who has not only banned travel, boating, and golf but also sales of garden tools and paint that Michigan residents could use to beautify the homes that have suddenly become their private prisons. This kind of craziness is, of course, what sparked the protests.
Last week, the Trump administration provided state governors with a three-phase “road map” for reopening the country and recovering from the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some GOP states — Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming — never issued stay-at-home orders for their residents. Other GOP states have announced plans for phased reopening. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders last Friday outlining the plan to reopen his state. Ohio, Idaho, and North Dakota are also moving toward reopening. But some Democratic states are resisting by forming compacts, which violates Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the Constitution:
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
The catch is that pesky prohibition against entering into “any Agreement or Compact with another state.” Without the consent of Congress, this is unconstitutional. Yet, in the Northeast — Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have entered into an interstate compact. In the Midwest — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have also formed such a pact. In the West — California, Oregon, and Washington have entered into yet another compact. In other words, these governors hope to violate the Constitution to avoid reopening their states. This is a forlorn hope, however. All of these states are targets of the lockdown protesters.
As they resist the inevitable, they will be compared to more sensible Democratic governors like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who said last Friday that he plans to begin a phased reopening of the state’s economy after April 24. And there will also be those shots of happy people enjoying the sun-drenched beaches of Florida and South Carolina, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster have already reopened in their states. In some ways, this will be the most powerful public statement of all — the sight of “clueless conservatives” frolicking in the sand with our friends and families while the hapless residents of Democratic states watch us while they sit home and shelter in place.
Saturday, after Gov. Ron DeSantis opened up the beaches near Jacksonville, the hashtag #FloridaMoron trended for hours on Twitter. It’s unlikely that anyone on the beach bothered to look at Twitter while they inhaled the fresh air of freedom. Some things are more important than safety. Most Americans get that. This reality is the source of the lockdown protests, and it’s why the Democrats are committing yet another blunder by ignoring them and attempting to prolong the stay-at-home orders. The protests are the foreshocks of an electoral earthquake comparable to 2016 and perhaps even the Reagan landslide of 1984.