This is not how it is supposed to work in America.

August 25, 2021
It has been an entire year and a half since the arrival of the novel coronavirus in Connecticut. Living through a pandemic has presented many additional challenges and disturbed the lock-step nature of our “land of steady habits.” The shakeup has put a spotlight on some dangerous trends that we are increasingly willing to accept here in Connecticut specifically regarding how people interact with their government. The public is taking a more passive approach to exercising their rights and digging into the research and instead allowing the government to define the rules and dictate behaviors.  What’s worse is the effort by some to silence, censor, and even bully, dox, and humiliate those who disagree with the views of the vocal collective.

In the early days of the pandemic, fear of the unknown was dangled in front of us as motivation for compliance with business closures, mask mandates and lockdowns. Eighteen months later, the risk of infection is still being cited as the rationale as to why government buildings are not yet fully functioning and why the entire state is on the constant cusp of another shutdown.

Watching most evening news programs or listening to the Lamont or Biden administrations you would never know it, but we are in a different world now.

The curve is effectively flat when looking at the data that truly matters – hospitalizations and deaths.  In Connecticut, data on fatalities is not even reported daily anymore.  It is done weekly as a sign that the numbers are trending in single digits.  No death is cause for celebration but knowing the coronavirus is substantially contained certainly is.

Do you remember when this all began?  The President and the Vice President of the United States came to the podium at a press conference, clearly concerned, possibly terrified that millions of Americans might die from this new illness.  What did they do? They asked the American people for cooperation – “two weeks to flatten the curve.”  That is so instructive because it reminds us that we were a far different country just that short time ago.  Our government respected us as free people, recognized their job was to inform us as citizens, and to ask for our help.

Fast forward to now.  Things are upside down.  Governments of all levels are not asking anymore.  They are telling – and often they are treating us as subjects.

Covid is a terrible thing, and it looks like it will continue to be – possibly forever.  The good news is that doctors have seemingly found ways to treat it, reducing deaths so dramatically that Covid may now be less of a health concern than influenza.  The government, on the other hand, isn’t through enjoying its newfound authoritarian power.  Mandates continue to exist with zero emergency present, and no chance of overwhelming our hospitals, and the Governor is already contemplating yet another extension of his emergency powers.

It’s time for Americans to regain their place as the source of decision making and reign in those attempting to be their masters – not just their representatives or government managers.

Regardless of how you feel about the subject of mask mandates, as an American, you should be proud of the efforts made by the resistance to them.  Those involved fight for one thing – their natural right to make their own personal health decisions – and in the case of schools, their children.  This is a key component of who we are as a country and as a people.  It was decided back in 1776 that America would be a country of free individuals, and that the way we are governed was up to them exclusively.

I implore you, regardless of your concern over the virus, or your complete confidence that you are in the right, to understand and respect the right of your neighbors to make their own choices.   If we fail to do so, then we have lost our country.

The Bill of Rights was written to establish rules to protect every citizen from the tyranny of the majority, recognizing that just because you may be the only person to hold a view or position, your right to do so exists on its own, and our government system would be restricted from interfering with that right.

Think of the atrocities through man’s history where these exact circumstances have played out before.  Denying your neighbor’s right to make their own decisions, particularly about their own personal health choices, is nothing short of oppression and fascism.  It has no place in a society of free and equal citizens.

Finally, I want to leave you with the reminder that our government works for us as individuals. Every elected person is responsible first to those who voted for them, not higher levels of government, and certainly not unelected bureaucrats.  That is the system of authoritarian regimes and not ours.  In America, we tell the government what to do, not the other way around.

As always, you can count on me to stand firm in defense of personal freedom and self-government.  These are the principles that made our country so great.   We cannot lose them, regardless of any threat from within or without.

Senator Rob Sampson