Freedom, not Force
Sugar City, ID mayor Steven Adams‘ Facebook page entitled “Freedom Not Force”
As a new mayor, I have struggled to be supportive of our state and national leaders in this time of concern. When COVID-19 started to spread, I was all in with plans to encourage working from home and other common-sense forms of social distancing. The argument for this strategy was that if we changed our social patterns, it would likely lengthen the amount of time required for the virus to spread and allow for less of a peak rush on medical services.
Those who could work from home would, and those who were at highest risk could isolate themselves, all while respecting the freedom of others. Again, the goal was to spread out the impact, not to stop it or keep everyone from getting it. The goal was not even to have fewer people infected, but to spread out the number of infections over time.
Just as we were getting started with this strategy, panic started to set in. This was driven by our media that chose to react to this crisis differently than ever before. Likely for no other reason than to embarrass a president they do not like.
Our state was caught up in this panic and it was fueled by what has been called the “Governor’s Order”. Rather than relying upon the plan just put into effect, the governor announced we would be shutting down most activity in the state unless it was deemed by the state to be “essential”.
This led to controversy because under Idaho law the Governor does not have the authority to issue such an order. Only the Director of the Department of Health and Welfare can issue that type of order. Turns out that is actually what happened.
Dave Jeppesen was the one who signed the order, not the Governor, but for some reason, everyone keeps calling it the Governor’s order, even the Governor.
To make matters worse, he made his announcement from the headquarters of the Idaho National Guard, then later sent out a document claiming his authority to issue the order was partially because he was the Commander and Chief of the state militia, which only makes sense if he was declaring martial law. He had every legal authority to mobilize the state militia in support of the order, but he should have respected the separation of powers built into our law and made it clear he was mobilizing them to provide logistical and material support to the medical community in support of the Director’s order. Better yet, he and the Director should have stuck with the first plan.
So, we jumped from a simple plan to flatten the curve, to a state-mandated general control of the public. Besides being a ridiculous escalation of response, it also leaves us basically nowhere to go in the future if this second strategy doesn’t work. All that is left now is to actually declare martial law and use the National Guard, not to support operations, but to force compliance to the order, which in a sad twist of fate, will leave them less able to provide operational support.
One massive problem is that it won’t work. If you want Idahoan’s to do something for the good of the public you explain the situation with honesty and clarity, then you ask for their help. You don’t try to force them. My neighbors will do anything for you if you ask, but you put a metaphorical, or actual, gun to their head and they will fight you to their dying breath. That is what freedom loving people do.
At the same time, we have our national elected leaders in Washington D.C. selling our future for a mess of pottage. They signed off on a truly massive spending package, money we are just printing out of thin air by the way, some of which will make its way to the citizens and business in need, but most of it will disappear into a corrupt corporate/political web. Is that why we elected them? Is that really what Idaho stands for?
The danger from this virus is real, but the greatest danger is coming from our own government. We must respect freedom, or the concept of freedom becomes hollow and meaningless.
I will continue to work online and isolate myself from others because it is a good idea, not because the state is claiming to force me to do so. I will continue to encourage others in our community to do the same, not because I am a government official, but because I am a neighbor trying to help. I know we can face this challenge together, but we cannot sit by and allow the state and federal governments to continue their usurpation of the natural rights of the people. I raise my voice in the defense of freedom. I invite you to do the same.
Steven Adams, Ph.D.
Sugar City Mayor”