Gretchen Whitmer’s Double Standards Are Exposed Yet Again With Her TikTok Usage - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Gretchen Whitmer’s Double Standards Are Exposed Yet Again With Her TikTok Usage
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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer decided recently that the Chinese-owned TikTok app exposed state workers to too much security risk and banned the app from state devices. All except her own account. She gets to play by different rules.

It’s not the first time. Whitmer has a long rap sheet of violating her own rules, and that’s especially true when it comes to her administration’s unconstitutional, strictest-in-the-nation COVID policies. Whitmer participated in Black Lives Matter protests that broke her administration’s social distancing rules. She also spoke at an event that violated her own executive orders. And she disregarded her own strict restaurant-dining orders by enjoying a meal with friends — a privilege denied to law-abiding citizens.

The political class shouldn’t be able to violate the rules they create and be immune to consequences.

While these were all likely bad laws to begin with, it is hypocritical for the governor to exempt herself from her administration’s own rules while enforcing them against ordinary citizens. She broke the rules when they were inconvenient but explicitly denied this discretion to others.

“These executive orders are not a suggestion. They’re not optional. They’re not helpful hints,” the governor warned. “Executive orders have the force of law, and we expect people to abide by them.”

She also followed a double standard when it came to her public health recommendations. She traveled to Florida shortly before issuing a strong recommendation to Michiganders that they not seek outdoor sunshine by traveling south for spring break. The privilege of flouting her recommendations was apparently extended to one of her top aides, who also took a Florida vacation while citizens heeding her recommendations shivered in sunless lockdown.

Whitmer is not the only governor failing to live by his or her own mandates. California Gov. Gavin Newsom broke his own rules regarding safe restaurant operation. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker enforced gathering restrictions against political opponents but not his own side. At the federal and local level, too, you find lots of examples of the country’s political class refusing to live under the rules given to the rest of us.

Many of these were bad rules and probably shouldn’t have been enforced in the first place. But the political class shouldn’t be able to violate the rules they create and be immune to consequences. They ought to live under their own bad laws. Perhaps having to suffer under the same restrictions as the rest of the citizenry would have given public officials the urgency to remove these bad laws.

“Rules for you but not for me” practices create a noble class of political elites who come to view the law as a mechanism to control others. The foundational principle of the rule of law is the constraint of political elites in order to prevent arbitrary rule. When you have rule by law rather than rule of law, citizens are no longer protected from discretionary decision-making that can lead to incomprehensible, contradictory, and little recognized or understood law, as American legal philosopher Lon Fuller observed.

There are more dire consequences for undermining the rule of law with unequal standards. The rule of law is a vital component of the institutions that drive economic growth and human prosperity. Throughout history, societies in which a distinct legal class of political elites stood above the rule of law followed a predictable trajectory of cronyism and the abuse of power.

Immunity to the rule of law is a slippery slope that can lead to the creation of all sorts of political exemptions and privileges denied to ordinary citizens. Whitmer’s husband, for instance, even tried to use his status as “first gentleman” to pressure a dock company to let him jump the line and get the first couple’s boat in the water before others. This type of behavior leads to the loss of respect and appreciation for the rule of law among both elites and ordinary citizens.

A foundational principle of a constitutional republic is that the people setting the rules have to live under them. It’s a mark of fairness and justice. Whitmer’s air of nobility in openly exempting herself from her own rules portends the threat of a growing political class in America that sees itself as above the rule of law. This is a troubling development for a country founded on the belief that political power is dangerous and the path to tyranny.

James M. Hohman is the director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market research and educational institute in Midland, Michigan. Daniel J. Smith is the director of the Political Economy Research Institute and professor of economics at the Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University.


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