Perhaps no governor in the United States embraced the use of emergency powers with more zeal than Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
In a commentary piece published by The Detroit News, writer Kathy Hoekstra reported that in March 2020, Whitmer’s administration sent a letter to all physicians and pharmacists in the state warning of “professional consequences” if they prescribed or dispensed hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to treat coronavirus patients.
The next month, according to The Detroit Free Press, Whitmer banned travel between residences (with few exceptions) and prohibited all public and private gatherings of any size, with fines of $1,000 for any violations.
She even shut down garden centers at the beginning of the 2020 planting season. She also banned Michiganders from playing golf.
The above list is merely scratching the surface. To put it bluntly, this governor abused her power. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in October 2020 that she lacked the legal authority to continue the lockdowns in her state. In July of this year, Whitmer was stripped of her emergency powers by the state legislature.
Whitmer’s draconian measures didn’t seem to make much difference in containing the spread of the coronavirus.
Michigan is currently experiencing a frightening spike in COVID cases. As of Saturday, there were 346,030 active cases in the state according to the data site World-o-meters. This is the highest number of active cases ever in the state, and easily eclipses two previous spikes of 293,837 on Apr. 25, 2021 and 251,631 on Dec. 11, 2020.
Newsweek reported on Wednesday that Michigan had the highest number of new cases in the country over the past week. At a rate of 572 cases per 100,000 residents, the state had surpassed Minnesota which had 515. Between Nov. 14 and 20, the report indicated there had been 61,551 new cases, a record in the state.
The spike in the Midwest is affecting a region where Covid cases hit an all-time high around this time last year.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 24, 2021
During remarks at a turkey giveaway on Tuesday, Whitmer said the holiday season is particularly dangerous for the spread of the coronavirus.
“As the holidays happen, I’m concerned. We’ve got multiple generations of families gathering, some of whom will bring COVID into those events, and sadly some family members could get sick,” Whitmer said, according to Newsweek.
However, she indicated she was not considering lockdowns.
“A year ago we did not have vaccines. Now we have the tools to stay safe.”
She has also asked for more federal help.
The federal government has granted Michigan’s request for emergency hospital staffing assistance during latest COVID surge, per Whitmer spokesperson.
— Jonathan Oosting (@jonathanoosting) November 24, 2021
On Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that the federal government was sending 44 military medical staffers to help in Michigan hospitals that are currently experiencing staff shortages.
The governor is up for reelection next year and Republicans are on the offensive.
The Washington Examiner reports “the state GOP blasted ‘do-nothing Whitmer’ for not implementing new mitigation measures.”
Gustavo Portela, communications director for the Michigan GOP, told The Examiner that her policies “put more lives in danger” and “have not actually helped.”
Her measures hurt Michiganders in the pocketbook, but did little to slow the transmission of the virus.
“You can protect lives and livelihoods,” Portela added.
According to the report, “Portela argued Whitmer’s approach overemphasized vaccine mandates at the expense of educating the public about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.”
Republican strategist Jason Roe told the media outlet that Whitmer “has been MIA. She’s not doing anything. Literally, not a thing.”
Whether the current line of Republican attack will send Whitmer to a richly deserved exit from the governor’s mansion is up for the Wolverine State’s voters to decide, but one lesson from Whitmer’s reign so far is crystal clear:
Tyranny matched to incompetence is a losing combination.
Whitmer clearly overreached in the early months of the pandemic, alienating her own constituents even if she was hailed by liberals on the national stage. (Like her Democratic colleague, the now-former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.)
In the current phase of the pandemic, however, only 54 percent of Michiganders have taken the vaccine, which is lower than the national average of 59 percent, according to The New York Times. So, the Whitmer who alienated much of her state last year now finds herself evidently unable to be convincing to many of her voters this year. How odd.
Michigan might have a below-average vaccination rate, but it’s far from the only Democratic-run state where infections are high. Deep-blue Vermont — a COVID vaccination leader by any measure — has experienced its own surge in cases, as have the notoriously restrictive California and New York.
Red states, meanwhile, like Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Florida, are faring relatively well.
So, what does stand out is that a state that imposed the most restrictive measures to fight the virus would find itself leading the U.S. into the latest wave of the pandemic.
Maybe it’s because tyranny doesn’t work.
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