A big issue that has emerged in the final days of the midterm election campaigns is the lockdowns of our schools and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The public saw with the abysmal test scores of our children the severe and lasting damage done. Voters are angry, and they should be. Lockdowns were a tragic mistake with very small health benefits but giant costs to society.
So, who’s responsible for the abuse of our children? We are in the midst of historical revisionism about what happened and who did it.
The short answer to that question is Democratic governors. And yes, a few GOP governors such as Larry Hogan of Maryland.
For the most part, though, you wouldn’t know that it was governors such as Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Kathy Hochul of New York, Tony Evers of Wisconsin or Gavin Newsom of California who ordered militant lockdowns but now pretend they never supported these policies. Whitmer and Evers say they only shut down the schools for a few weeks when the reality is the children lost nearly a full year of schooling. They must think voters have amnesia.
Will voters hold these lockdown governors accountable on Election Day? They should. The new NAEP test scores show some of the worst results in math and reading in 50 years. The lockdowns also did incalculable and long-lasting damage to our small businesses and the public’s mental and physical health.
The Democratic governors are now trying to shift the blame to—who else—former President Donald Trump. The 45th president made mistakes for sure in dealing with COVID-19. But he also made a critically important and life-saving decision that goes completely unappreciated. In April 2020, he deferred to the 9th and 10th amendments of the Constitution and allowed the states to make their own decisions about how they wanted to deal with the virus.
The result with a few exceptions was that red state governors such as Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kim Reynolds of Iowa opened up their economies, and blue states stayed shut down. The subsequent impact on deaths was negligible, but the red states’ economies recovered quickly in jobs and economic output, while the blue states’ economies remain to this day comatose. Had it not been for red states such as Florida and Texas reopening early on, the national economic contraction would have been far more calamitous.
It’s vitally important that lockdown governors—in both parties—be held accountable for the damage they did to their states. If they aren’t, the next time we have a virus or the next time the climate change fanatics are in positions of power, they will close down society again. They are already calling COVID-19 a trial run for economic lockdowns.
That’s like calling the Hindenburg a “trial run.”
Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economist with FreedomWorks. His latest book is “Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government is Devouring our Economy.”
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