Cheap Seats 2020
Flames - 11/18
By Rich Trzupek
Not quite 100 years ago the newly elected leader of a widely-respected, civilized nation that had long-been identified as a caretaker of western culture and ideals was faced with a problem. This leader loved his country, in his own way, and sincerely believed it and the institutions that made it special were being eroded. The problem, from this leader’s perspective, was equal parts systemic racial inequality and lack of appropriate government oversight.
He believed the fate of his nation and his people were at stake. Drastic measures were therefore called-for. If those measures turned out to be a bit sketchy, no matter. It was a case of the end justifying the means.
His basic problem was the problem that plagues every leader of a nation that uses a version of representative democracy to govern: the opposition. The crisis was imminent and grave. He just didn’t have time to debate every detail of the program he new must be implemented if the nation was to survive.
He needed an emergency. It had to be a big emergency, a threat so obvious and terrible that he could justify taking virtually all of the power of government into his own hands. It’s a time tested formula that dates back to at least Lucius Sulla, who used an emergency to proclaim himself dictator of Rome.
The emergency this particular leader came up with was spectacular and effective. The building that housed the national legislature was set afire. The blaze, the public was told, was part of a nefarious plot orchestrated by a foreign power attempting to stage a coup. Emergency powers were duly granted, allowing the leader to act as a dictator for the next twelve years.
Astute readers may have deduced the leader to whom I refer: Adolf Hitler. The mustachioed maniac planned the Reichstag fire and promptly blamed it on communists attempting to seize power. It was a credible enough threat to convince the nation that Hitler should be given the wide-ranging powers he desired. And those powers once taken would not be surrendered until Allied forces forced the issue at the point of several million guns.
I retell this story because we appear to be in the midst of a similar “emergency” that requires us to grant extraordinary powers to certain government officials. The excuse in this case is not a political movement, but a microscopic invader: COVID-19. It has been used to excuse all sorts of power grabs, chiefly in blue states by the governors of those states.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom was slapped down by the courts for changing the law regarding mail-in ballots without going through the legislature. Newsom believed that the COVID danger allowed him to ignore his proper role in a free republic: that of the executive branch which executes laws enacted by the legislature rather than arbitrarily imposing his own will on the state.
The same thing has happened in Illinois, with Jabba the Guv’s shutdown orders. Although I’m happy to report that once you get outside of the Chicagoland area, he’s pretty much being ignored. Indeed, the chances of finding a restaurant open in Illinois seems to increase in direct proportion to the number of “Trump” signs you can find in an area.
At this point, we get it: wear a mask and don’t clump. Some of us may choose to stay shivering in our basement, others of us will go about our business and take our chances. Big Brother is no longer needed, nor welcome.