Wednesday, March 10, will mark one year since Gov. Jared Polis invoked sweeping governmental powers permitted by our laws in times of declared emergencies, like the current pandemic. It has already been the longest, geographically broadest exercise of these executive powers in the history of our law. It is time for it to end.
It is time for Polis to give Colorado back to us.
While some states like Florida and South Dakota never visited upon their residents the level of restrictions we experienced here, other states, like Texas and Mississippi, have already begun to return self-determination to the people. We should too. Now.
We are entitled to more than the anemic lightning of the myriad restrictions upon us. While recently allowing those restaurants that have acceded to the demands of the Five Star program to return to full capacity is a baby step in the right direction, Coloradans deserve a triple jump towards liberty. Slowly doling freedoms back to us is anathema to a people who trace their heritage to our bold and independent forbearers.
To be clear, there was a time when the emergency order was appropriate and absolutely necessary to save lives and mitigate against the unknown consequences of COVID-19. That time was before local governments could find their footing and before multiple vaccines were distributed. That time has passed.
Let us formally dispense with the myth that our governor’s decisions thus far have been the product of data and science. That notion was dispelled instantly with the indefensibly arbitrary decisions about which businesses could remain open. Pot shops and liquor stores: yes. Tobacco shops: no. Big box stores: yes. Small business selling the same products: no.
The whimsical treatment of data and science continued as–on the eve of a report highlighting how his orders dropped our unemployment rate from fourth best to fourth worst in America — Polis frenetically announced that every county that was apocalypse red on CDPHE’s mood ring-like COVID wheel was suddenly Broncos orange … for no science-based reason. Polis’ science-less decision-making has continued through the roll-out of the vaccine. He has vacillated on prioritizing inmates over the most at-risk and jumped to the front of the line the politically elite, his staffers, and the first gentleman, all contrary to the guidance of the folks who rely on science…like the CDC and WHO.
Interestingly, there is science and data that supports ending the emergency-driven power grab. President Joe Biden has promised to have enough vaccines for every American by May. We do not need to wait for that. Nearly 38,000 Coloradans per week are vaccinated and that number will only grow. We have already vaccinated more than 1.3 million Coloradans, nearly 30% of the adult population, and over 70% of the population north of 70 — who comprise more than 77% of all COVID deaths. More than 525,000 Coloradans have received both doses. Our state’s seven-day positivity rate is a low 3.3% and only 4% of available hospital beds are occupied by suspected COVID 19 patients.
Coloradans are a free people whose natural inclination is to thrive in liberty and the protections of self-government. We have long felt — and strained against– the unintended disastrous impact of this unprecedented and arbitrary use of the governor’s emergency powers: businesses crushed, jobs and livelihoods wiped out, more than a year of in-school learning lost for our children with yet unquantified educational setbacks and a spike in mental health issues for them, an undeniable surge in violence and property crimes, and the overwhelming sense that we simply cannot be trusted with our own lives.
If Polis refuses to undo his order with its many negative consequences, he should tell us with great specificity what metrics will guarantee he does so. Otherwise, this is just a twisted game of pandemic Marco Polo, with blindfolded Coloradans moving around in the dark begging “can we have our freedom back now?” Only to hear Polis’ constantly shifting voice responding “Polo. You’re getting warmer.” Coloradans should not be reduced to panhandling for liberties. They are ours by birthright and we want them back.
Rescinding the historic order merely returns the responsibility and authority for governance during what remains of the pandemic from a single person to our local health boards and governments. Heck, even the legislature is in session for several more months. If numbers change and the danger again becomes a true emergency, Polis can re-invoke his statutory superpowers and we can return to daily briefings about how our lives will be shaped by the will of a single individual.
Trust Coloradans to take advice and look out for themselves and one another, not because we will be perfect at it, but because we will be better at it than the government. Liberty too long delayed is liberty denied. Let’s do this. This is Polis’ chance to truly lead us back from this disaster.
George H. Brauchler is the former district attorney for the 18th Judicial District. Follow him @GeorgeBrauchler.
To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by email or mail.
Subscribe to bi-weekly newsletter to get health news sent straight to your inbox.
Source: Read Full Article