To believe Americans cannot, or should not, make their own health decisions is to steal from them their personal agency and render them completely dependent upon government directives. Pictured: Dr. Anthony Fauci prepares to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 30, 2020. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
COVID-19 mitigation czar and mask scold Dr. Anthony Fauci recently bemoaned Americans' increased reluctance to "adhere" to public health restrictions. Blaming "fatigue," "political divisiveness," and "social media misinformation and disinformation," the good doctor seemed quite upset that Americans no longer readily comply with every policy recommendation coming from his office. Where officials command and citizens comply, however, "expert" opinion smothers personal choice. That is hardly the American way.
Still, Fauci is right about one thing: Americans are tired. They are tired of a "two weeks to flatten the curve" medical campaign sold as a temporary solution to an immediate health crisis mutating into a permanent state of emergency. They are tired of watching their young children lag behind in academic achievement because of disrupted school routines and mandated remote learning. They are tired of watching their favorite local restaurants close because the financial stress from mandated lockdowns was simply too much for them to bear. They are tired of austere hospital guidelines that have kept families sequestered from dying loved-ones, forestalled timely cancer diagnoses and ameliorative treatments, and often prevented routine care. More than anything else, though, Americans are exhausted from the dispensation of "expert" advice that often turns out to be misleading, inadequate, or downright wrong.
Over the course of two-plus years, "experts" told Americans face masks are largely ineffective, but necessary, best when doubled up, yet potentially contaminated with pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Experts promised that experimental mRNA vaccines would prevent infection and transmission of the COVID-19 virus before admitting that the injections might only reduce severe symptoms and nothing more. Experts argued that mRNA vaccination provided greater protection than the natural immunity conferred from regular infection, before admitting that evidence supported no such claim. Experts argued that two shots were sufficient for immunity before adding one booster, and then another booster, and then admitting that shots every few months might be required. Experts lampooned allegations of adverse side-effects from the barely tested vaccines as "misinformation" before recognizing that deaths and injuries do occur. Experts even threatened the licenses and certifications of dissenting medical doctors whose professional judgments have often proved true. If this prolonged COVID "emergency" showed Americans anything, it is that blind allegiance to the government's cult of expertise is no guarantee for honesty or success.
If Americans no longer hang onto Fauci's every word as some sort of instruction manual for how to live their lives, the fall of Faucism signals a return to common sense. This is a good thing. In a free country such as ours, Americans should always be encouraged to rely upon their personal capacity for understanding the issues of the day and resolving those issues according to their individual will. That's what liberty is — the inherent right of each person to absorb information, form preferences, and act deliberately.
A strong nation requires self-confident citizens, and self-confident citizens are forged in cultures that value personal education, know-how, and self-reliance. Note that it is important not to equate formal academic degrees with an education. No institution maintains a monopoly over knowledge, and no degree automatically confers expertise. It is the desire to learn, the ability to apply what is learned, and the willingness to adjust one's preconceptions about the world accordingly that foster well-informed citizens. When Americans are treated with respect, they are expected to make their own decisions. When Americans are empowered to make their own decisions, they are encouraged to take control over their lives. And when individual Americans take control over their own lives, a healthy and robust society is the natural result. Knowledge and self-sufficiency are the keys.
A young worker unlikely to suffer any serious health consequences from the COVID-19 virus has every right to determine for himself whether operating a small business is more important than staying locked up at home. Parents have every right to balance the costs of missed educational opportunities for school-aged children against the risks of illness. American adults are entirely qualified to judge for themselves whether masks, gloves, or full body hazmat suits are necessary for day-to-day existence. And individual Americans are intellectually capable of determining whether they wish to be injected with novel mRNA vaccines. To insist that grown adults lack the ability to make consequential life choices is to insist that they be infantilized for the rest of their lives.
Relying on Americans to use their own common sense, on the other hand, maximizes each citizen's self-determination while encouraging government restraint. It draws a firm line between personal bodily autonomy and an amorphous bureaucracy all too willing to make rules for the sake of making them. It reminds Americans that they, not the government, are ultimately responsible for their own health and safety. And it helps keep emergency government powers in check.
To believe Americans cannot, or should not, make their own health decisions is to steal from them their personal agency and render them completely dependent upon government directives. Such a system elevates bureaucratic authority and enslaves the citizen to the state. That type of total government control is the hallmark of authoritarian and totalitarian societies. It has absolutely no place, however, in any nation that regards itself as a bastion for personal freedom.
JB Shurk writes about politics and society.