Politics

In Michigan, the Wrong Way To Govern During a Pandemic 

As federal guidelines suggested classifying more industries as "essential" so that they could reopen, Gov. Whitmer arbitrarily did the opposite.

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Few governors have handled the coronavirus crisis perfectly, but Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer might deserve the prize for the least perfect performance. Her lockdown has inspired around 16 lawsuits and multiple protests. One doesn't have to agree entirely with the protesters to understand that Whitmer went overboard.

Most local lockdowns had their share of nuttiness. But as long as the ratio of good sense to nonsense remained relatively high, Americans mostly went along. That started changing in the Wolverine State when Whitmer defied the legislature and unilaterally extended the lockdown beyond the 41 days that both sides had agreed to, prompting a lawsuit by the body's Republican majority. What's more, instead of easing restrictions over time, Whitmer added stringent new provisions even as the original goal of the lockdown—flattening the curve—was accomplished.

As federal guidelines suggested classifying more industries as "essential" so that they could reopen, Whitmer arbitrarily did the opposite. She ordered big-box outlets to stop selling paint, carpets, and other home improvement material in-store and to block aisles containing those items. But grocery stores could still ply people with soda and candy. Selling lottery tickets was allowed, as was (mercifully) liquor. Landscaping services, however, were suspended.

The last meant that Contender's Tree and Lawn Specialist Inc., a company that had purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars of plant treatment in anticipation of the lockdown lifting, stood to lose all its plants. The company sued. So Whitmer released landscaping companies from captivity, along with golf courses.

But other categories of work, including "nonessential" medical treatments, were still prohibited. Michigan residents couldn't see a doctor except for medical emergencies. No gallbladder operations, annual physicals, or dental checkups were permitted. And no number of safeguards adopted by medical facilities could convince Whitmer to acquiesce to Republican suggestions to include them in one of the earlier phases of reopening. They had to wait till the pandemic was in "phase six"—when "sufficient community immunity" or a "high uptake of an effective therapy or vaccine" was achieved, which could take years. Whitmer was unperturbed that in the interim, an untold number of people would suffer from health problems not related to the coronavirus and medical facilities, starved of income, would shutter. This triggered yet another lawsuit, this one filed by the free market Mackinac Center for Public Policy on behalf of patients and providers.

Whitmer's lockdown didn't even spare the barely affected northern regions of Michigan, putting the modest livelihoods of those residents in jeopardy. Her theory was that any activities beyond the absolutely essential would jeopardize frontline workers by driving up infection numbers. But this mindset, which regards even an infinitesimal increase in secondary risk as unacceptable, could justify stopping virtually any activity anytime.

Whitmer decreed that violations would count as misdemeanors punishable by up to a $1,000 civil fine, among the stiffest in the country. Criminal penalties were also on the table. Meanwhile, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, apparently looking to China for inspiration, encouraged employees to rat out employers who flouted the rules.

Although the initial lockdown was relatively uncontroversial, the extension triggered a backlash. A Facebook group called Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantining gained steam, reaching over 282,000 members. Its rhetoric was fairly measured at first, but by mid-May, according to Newsweek, one of its members was warning: "We haven't had any bloodshed yet, but the populous [sic] is counting to three, and yesterday was day two. Next comes watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants." Calls to hang, shoot, beat, or behead the governor proliferated.

Rallies got nastier, too. In April, the Michigan Conservative Coalition's "Operation Gridlock" invited motorists to Lansing, the state capital, to jam up roads. The group impressed on protesters to be respectful and responsible. Though it drew some Confederate flag wavers, that was nothing compared to subsequent rallies, where gun-toting militants entered the Capitol. In response, armed guards escorted minority lawmakers into the building. In mid-May, the legislature shut down for a few days. The state's largest militia, Michigan Home Guard, dispatched armed members in Trump paraphernalia to prevent police interference as a 77-year-old small-town barber opened his shop in defiance of the lockdown.

President Donald Trump's personal attacks on Whitmer and characterization of these extremists as "very good people" may have drawn them out. But Whitmer's resort to the maximal possible force, rather than the minimal necessary, played into their hands.

NEXT: Is the Senate Filibuster a 'Jim Crow Relic' That Should Be Abolished in the Name of Democracy?

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  2. She’s not governing, she’s ruling by fiat. As have all the states to some degree. It should have never come to this. Guidelines and warnings could have been issued and people and businesses could have taken proper precautions. Hospitals could have made their own plans. Here in my area, the cases and deaths have been few. Mostly in retirement homes. Yet, most business was shuttered and hospitals that had few cases were under the state wide mandate. The economic cost to the county is still adding up. Then there’s threating to fine and jail people with out laws being passed in a proper manner. There’s going to be a huge bill to pay and the fall out won’t be pretty.

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  3. What the hell does this have to do with immigration?

    1. Thats the follow up article.

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    2. Everything is so terrible and unfair?

    3. This is all a great argument against open borders. Although I’m sure Reason won’t see it that way.

  4. And Michigan still has the 6th highest coronavirus fatality rate per capita in the nation, at 65 per 100,000 – a good bit higher than the national average of 44 per 100,000.

    1. You know that high rates are taken as an indication that the problem is much worse in that particular state and a sign that state officials are doing a good job despite the size of the problem and not that state officials are doing a shitty job, right? It’s as if we awarded the Superbowl to the Miami Dolphins because they’re obviously having to play much harder than teams that actually win games.

      1. Heads I win
        Tails you lose

      2. Yep. Andrew Cuomo is the Left’s pandemic hero despite his state having a death rate of around 170 per 100,000, second highest in the country behind New Jersey.

        1. To be fair to New Jersey, they got the spillover deaths from NYC, without having rural northern NY to dilute them. Not saying they did a fabulous job, but it was actually NYC’s fault that NJ slightly edged out NY.

          At least, that’s how it looks to me.

      3. “We wouldn’t have so many deaths if our testing wasn’t so fantastic.”

  5. “We haven’t had any bloodshed yet, but the populous [sic] is counting to three, and yesterday was day two. Next comes watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants.” Calls to hang, shoot, beat, or behead the governor proliferated.

    Go Michigan!

    1. Shooting and beheading is a little over the top. I’ve only been calling for Phil Murphy to be hung from a lamppost.

      1. I don’t know why but somehow that made me laugh.

  6. I kind of hope she’ll be picked for VP just so we can get rid of her, although I don’t know enough about our light governor to know if things will be worse. The downside, though, is that Biden will probably win and then shortly die, leaving her to be POTUS. Her dictatorial style isn’t unlike Trump’s, as she’s demonstrating that anything can be a state emergency (look at her crusade against vaping liquid, for example).

    1. The only reason her dictatorial style even matters is that Trump isn’t being a dictator. He let the states handle things on their end, and some of them screwed up.

  7. A Shikha article that’s not plumping for illegal immigration or ranting about Trump?

    President Donald Trump’s personal attacks on Whitmer and characterization of these extremists as “very good people” may have drawn them out.
    Ahh, there we go…

    that was nothing compared to subsequent rallies, where gun-toting militants entered the Capitol.
    Fucking libertarians and their second amendment bullshit.
    How were they militants you ask? Because shut up!

    But Whitmer’s resort to the maximal possible force, rather than the minimal necessary, played into their hands.
    She’s not an authoritarian thug, she was tricked into it by “extremists”. She “played into their hands”. It’s not her fault…

    1. Though it drew some Confederate flag wavers, that was nothing compared to subsequent rallies, where gun-toting militants entered the Capitol. In response, armed guards escorted minority lawmakers into the building.

      White people with guns means they want to kill minorities.

  8. “But other categories of work, including “nonessential” medical treatments, were still prohibited. Michigan residents couldn’t see a doctor except for medical emergencies. No gallbladder operations, annual physicals, or dental checkups were permitted.”

    But on her website ( https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90500_90628—,00.html), it says that “Everyone in Michigan has a right to quality health care they can afford.” So much for that.

    1. More like “Everyone in Michigan has the right to what is good for them, including being told what is good for them.”

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  9. But this mindset, which regards even an infinitesimal increase in secondary risk as unacceptable, could justify stopping virtually any activity anytime.

    This year has been a great test run for authoritarians wanted to enforce their environmental policies.

    1. Why not limit cars on the freeway to one every 15 minutes? Why not set the speed limit at 25 mph everywhere? If it saves just one life, isn’t it worth it?

      1. Even that bar has been lowered. They don’t know if anything they propose will save lives, but the possibility that it might save a life, that’s a good enough reason to place everyone under house arrest.

      2. Unless it’s an infant. Those can be murdered unilaterally and at taxpayer expense.

  10. I’m convinced the polls are garbage. Whitmer is so unpopular she may drag Biden down with her. The media never seem to find any Michigan conservatives except when some nutty militia guys walk around. But they are there and even if bitch governor isn’t running in 2020 she may have to abdicate her toilet throne to keep the attention off how badly democrats fucked up their response.

    I am happy to see the Ds ignoring their same mistakes from 2016.

  11. This is definitely one of the weakest, dumbest opinion articles I have read in a while. No factual figures to help the reader understand how well/poorly Michigan has done combatting the virus. And placing responsibilities of nut jobs preventing a sheriff from doing his job Solely at her feet. Not to mention that the world apparently stopped in mid-May because nothing happened in Michigan to bolster or negate this article in the two and half months since then.

    If the writer wants to go on the side of “it doesn’t matter if she caused hundreds of COVID deaths or saved hundreds of lives, it’s the principle” then say it. But to say “The wrong way to govern during a pandemic” and then not even bother to show an example of what the right way was is simply lazy and/or lacking the intelligence to be a paid writer.

    1. Gretchen?

  12. Local news story.

    2 activists arrested for using chalk on a public sidewalk to write black pre born lives matter.

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/breaking-pro-life-activists-arrested-after-chalking-black-pre-born-lives-matter-on-sidewalk-by-planned-parenthood

    1. And as a reminder… the D.C. D.A. released many of the rioters for arson, burglary and vandalism from the BLM riots.

      1. How is this legal?

        How can you release rioters and throw the book at people writing black preborn lives matter?

        1. Because District Attorneys have complete discretion over who to charge…or not charge.
          They also can make charging decisions based on politics.
          So completely ignoring arson, looting, and rioting, while vigorously charging ordinary citizens in clear cases of self-defense is perfectly legal
          Local district attorneys have Unlimited qualified immunity.
          Most people pay no attention to who the local district attorney is, yet they wield unbelievable power.
          A billionaire named George Soros has been throwing hundreds of thousands into local district attorney elections that are normally funded by candidates spending less than $10,000.
          So he has put lots of extreme leftists into positions of extraordinary power.
          Just look at the Jesse Smollett case, and the McCloskey case.
          Both of these district attorneys won their elections using lopsided contributions from different Soros companies

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  13. Read this looking for Orange Man Bad, even though it has exactly nothing to do with Orange Man. Orange Man Bad — last paragraph.

    Obsessed people can’t help themselves. Just like when racists and antisemites talk: they always need to slip their obsession into everything they say on every subject.

    1. The underlying theme of any COVID opinion piece is “Orange Man Bad.” It’s all Trump’s fault. Here in Michigan, any criticism of our governor’s irrational COVID response is met with a Trump-based deflection.

      That said, I agree with the observation in the preceding post. The polls are inaccurate. Gretchen isn’t popular.

  14. I remember back when the media were freaking out and crying about the government shutting down.

    Shutting down the economy is totes cool, though, as long as your priorities see screwed up and you don’t care about fundamental human rights.

    1. Good point. Shutting down the government is the end of the world while shutting down the damned economy is just smart planning.

      1. If it plays well for a Democrat trying to stay or get in office, shutting down the economy is just a “small, temporary cost” that can’t even be compared to “saving just one life.”

  15. Witmer was the worst. Newsom gave her a run for her money, but Newsom at least is wishy washy. Witmer was just consistently overbearing (you can go to Home Depot for things to repair your house, but not paint or gardening supplies), and hypocritcal (you can’t go visit your lakehouse upstate, but her husband can, and can jump to the front of the line at the marina.)

    1. She even thought the Nazi symbols protestors were displaying meant they were Nazis, instead of recognizing that they were referring to her.

    2. She’d be perfectly cast as the witch in Hansel & Gretel.

  16. Few governors have handled the coronavirus crisis perfectly, but Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer might deserve the prize for the least perfect performance.

    I was hoping for a good Shikha article, but when I saw “least perfect”, I realized it was a Shikha article.

  17. Michigan residents couldn’t see a doctor except for medical emergencies. No gallbladder operations, annual physicals, or dental checkups were permitted.

    This probably caused unnecessary deaths and long-term health problems. Not quite as evil as the nursing home genocides going on in many states, but still evil.

    1. My wife had a gall bladder infection just before all of this shit hit the fan. I had to take her to emergency and she spent 3 days in the hospital battling the infection. Got it out as soon as it was under control. Gall bladder surgery is elective only because it can be scheduled for the convenience of all parties involved. But once that thing goes bad normal life ends until you get it out. If she had been forced to wait months for the surgery she’d have been on massive doses of antibiotics and unable to work or enjoy the summer. It’s appalling that thousands were deprived while clinics were bankrupted.

      1. I had my gall bladder flare up once. Horrible pain. I didn’t need surgery, but I wouldn’t have wanted to wait for it if I did need it.

    2. IIRC, Michigan also participated in the nursing home genocide.

      1. In some cases, they put 20-30 year old Covid patients in the same room as the retirees.

  18. that was nothing compared to subsequent rallies, where gun-toting militants entered the Capitol. In response, armed guards escorted minority lawmakers into the building.

    Minority lawmakers had themselves escorted for the political impact of it. The “gun toting militants” were not a threat to them, and even coordinated the event with police (they even posed for pictures with them).

    1. You Will also note that not a single window was broken, store looted, or fire started by the “gun toting militants”.
      They even came back and picked up all the litter.
      The Comparison between the gun toting militants and the peaceful rioters is stark.

  19. Shika – how many injured and how much property damage by these “extremists”? Just trying to see where this rates against the “peaceful protests” we’ve seen across the country. You are such a godawful leftist hack it isn’t even comical anymore.

    1. I look forward to the usual suspects showing up and arguing that it’s not the same, or something.

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  23. Wow. A Dalmia article I can get behind.

    Whitmore is not only incompetent, but she’s vindictive and a stupid individual. Her actions are beyond the pale.

    And she’s far from the only one. Cuomo, Murphy, Newsome, Wolf De Wine are among the worse leaders I’ve seen. Here, Doug Ford is on par with those assholes and Legault one measure away from joining them. Then there’s the madness going on in Victoria, Australia.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid people rule over us.

    Seems like the North east and upper mid-West are all copying each other like a bunch of idiotic Keystone Cops.

    1. Now do deSantis so we know you’re serious.

      1. What did he do? He didn’t lockdown ruining lives and didn’t send people to die in long-term facilities. Right there he’s ahead.

        NY, NJ, Conn, Mass, RI all have way worse numbers than Florida.

        Try again Tony.

        1. Yeah Tony,

          What DID DeSantis do?

          How is he in league with the “Literally Hitlers” that Rufus listed?

          I’d like to hear this.

    2. Don’t forget Jay Inslee in WA.

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  25. Sad news, everyone. Shikha recently got a DUI, and as punishment, the courts ordered her to write a libertarian article.

  26. Shika, it kind of scares me when I mostly agree with something you write. Don’t do that; it makes my world play like a Gilbert and Sullivan light opera.

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