Sen. Ted Cruz had had enough.
The Texas Republican – like much of the country – apparently has been watching the increasingly extreme steps being taken in some areas to keep residents from violating “social distancing” rules laid down by increasingly authoritarian governments.
But a story out of Pennsylvania apparently pushed him over the line.
This is absurd. To Dem politicians (and it seems to be only Dems doing this, eg Wolf in PA, DeBlasio in NYC, Cooper in NC), protect public safety, but WE DON’T LIVE IN A POLICE STATE. Resist authoritarianism & don’t abuse power. Driving a car alone is not a public health threat. https://t.co/tTNszTGNgA
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 5, 2020
Cruz was reacting to the story of a 19-year-old woman who, according to The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, was pulled over by Pennsylvania state troopers on March 29 for allegedly having a taillight out and then fined for failing to obey Democratic Gov. Tom Wolfe’s “stay-at-home” order.
It’s a violation that could mean a $200 fine, though the woman, identified as Anita Schaffer, told The Patriot-News she plans to fight it in court.
But it was also the kind of story that helps crystalize the frustrations of American citizens watching the coronavirus crisis play out against a backdrop of confusing rules that seem — as in the case of the Pennsylvania woman — dangerously arbitrary.
And they also, as the senator noted, seem to be taking place in areas governed by Democrats.
“This is absurd,” Cruz wrote. “To Dem politicians (and it seems to be only Dems doing this, eg Wolf in PA, DeBlasio in NYC, Cooper in NC), protect public safety, but WE DON’T LIVE IN A POLICE STATE. Resist authoritarianism & don’t abuse power. Driving a car alone is not a public health threat.”
No, driving alone is not a public health threat. What is a threat to the American idea of equal justice, though, is the fact that there is precious little consistency to how any “stay-at-home” order is enforced. And, for many, the potential for abuse is unacceptably high.
Cruz’s tweet got plenty of mockery — as the meteoric career of former Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke proved, Cruz is particularly unpopular among those on the left.
(O’Rourke’s sole claim to national attention was that he was the Democrat who came within 3 percentage points of defeating Cruz in the 2018 midterms. The failure of his pathetic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination showed how much support O’Rourke actually generated on his own.)
But there were quite a few Twitter users who agreed with Cruz’s point.
This is the future the democrats want for us.
— 𝖕ɐɯ 𝖘ı 𝖕𝖑ɹ𝖔ʍ ǝɥʇ/hī-ˈdräk-sē-\ˈklōr-ə-kwēn (@BeatriceofEste) April 5, 2020
Just another example of tyrannical leftists using #coronavirus as an excuse to live out their Police State wet dreams.
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) April 5, 2020
We are in danger in losing our rights with some of these communists in charge of these blue states Call your governors; mayors, and tell them to STOP
— Stephen Szydlik (@SteveSzydlik) April 5, 2020
The biggest problem with the “police state” conditions Americans have witnessed in the coronavirus crisis is the lack of consistency, or even apparent logic, to the enforcement.
In the Pennsylvania case, a young woman’s allegedly broken taillight (she and her father told The Patriot-News the light was working when she got home) ended up netting her a fine of at least $200. Meanwhile, the state’s grocery stores, bakeries, laundromats and other “life-sustaining” businesses remain open.
In California, a lone paddleboarder was arrested Thursday by Malibu police for violating Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “stay-at-home” order, according to KTLA-TV, while in Oakland, a street party that attracted 450 revelers on Sunday ended up with only three arrests, according to KTVU-TV.
In Florida, meanwhile, a pastor was arrested after conducting a church service that violated a “safer at home” ordinance approved by the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group, which includes representatives from the Democratic-majority County Commission, the officially nonpartisan school board, the sheriff’s office and three cities in the county.
The pastor’s attorney, Mat Staver, told Fox News that the ordinance his client was arrested under allows a “wide range of commercial operations that are either specifically exempt or exempt if they can comply with a six-foot separation. Yet, if the purpose of your meeting is religious, the county prohibits it with no exception for the six-foot separation.”
What it boils down to is, Americans have shown, and continue to show, an admirable degree of compliance with the rules authorities are releasing. Most people probably understand that from the presidency down to the county commission and town council level, the coronavirus crisis is something that hasn’t been dealt with before.
No sane person expects perfection in any human endeavor — and in government least of all.
But there will come a time when that patience is going to run out — and when the arbitrary implementation of rules is going to stop looking like understandable, if infuriating, mistakes and start looking like the kind of abuse of power conservatives have long suspected is behind the Democratic/progressive agenda.
When that time comes, it won’t be just Ted Cruz who’s had enough. And it isn’t going to be just angry tweets that the power abusers are going to have to worry about.
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