Let’s take a moment to gather our thoughts. What are your senses telling you? Is fear in the air? Or are you feeling a compelling urge to get out despite government warnings?

I will admit it is fascinating to see people’s reactions across the country, including Kentucky, about returning to some normalcy. What some label as stupid behavior or lunacy, others call a bold American spirit. Boil it down to obedient verses rebellious.  

Many believe that the challenge is no longer about the virus, but control. On one hand, states like Tennessee are returning to business. Our northern neighbor Ohio is too. Several other states have loosened restrictions, yet Kentucky continues with restrictions on businesses and other public gatherings.

Whatever the situation, the result is troubling. Kentucky is in the top of total unemployment as a percentage of the workforce, and last week’s unemployment update reveals 671,288 Kentuckians filed initial claims for jobless benefits in the preceding seven weeks for a whopping 32.7% of Kentucky’s labor force out of work. Gulp!

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in an interview last week said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is “drunk with power” and that the shutdown needs to end as soon as possible. He added in his comments to a Louisville television reporter, “He now thinks that he can dictate to every business in Kentucky what they must do to stay open. This is a huge mistake for any society or any state to give so much power to one person. For goodness sakes, the state legislature has had no say in any of this. And what about the mayors and the judge executives and the property owners and the churchgoers and the church owners? Do we not have any say anymore in what we do? Do we have to take a dictate from the governor?”

While we face a different obstacle in the 21st century, you may agree that situation has become too onerous. This does not have to mean we throw caution to the wind or that we are out of the woods; it simply means we help get people back to work and encourage people to use safe systems when they work or go out in the public. For those most vulnerable, with underlying conditions, it seems appropriate to encourage them to remain safe in their environments.

The contradiction of opening some businesses or organizations and closing others is at the root of this twisted controversy.  Houses of worship close, but abortion clinics open.  

Speaking of churches, a U.S. District Court judge granted a restraining order late last week against Gov. Beshear’s order regarding church gatherings. The lawsuit was filed by a Kentucky church and joined by Republican Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general. Republican Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball  reacted like this: “The Governor’s recent string of court defeats represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the protections afforded by our Constitution for religious activity. The Governor needs to stop micromanaging and work towards getting the economy up and running.”

Defending against tyranny is an American standard. In December 1775, a column in the Pennsylvania Journal – by an author who many believe was Benjamin Franklin – told the story of merchant marines use of the rattlesnake painted on bright yellow barrels carrying supplies with the phrase “Don’t tread on me.” Later, Col. Christopher Gadsden leader of the Sons of Liberty in South Carolina presented a flag to a Navy commander with the same insignia.  

“Don’t tread on me,” became a united expression against government oppression throughout the 13 colonies of America. The phrase begs the question, where does government responsibility end and personal responsibility begin? A continuing challenge to our Constitutional form of  government.  

In case you think this isn’t serious, just a few short years ago, as stated in the 2016 Republican Party Platform, “Forty-eight Democratic senators, for instance, voted to amend the Bill of Rights to give government officials control over political speech. Democrats in Congress have likewise proposed bills that would limit religious liberty, undermine property rights, and eviscerate the Second Amendment.

“In a free society, the primary role of government is to protect the God-given, inalienable rights of its citizens. These constitutional rights are not negotiable for any American. We believe our constitutional system — limited government, separation of powers, federalism, and the rights of the people — must be preserved uncompromised for future generations.”

Does the message of the Gadsden flag have some relevance for us today?  

Greg DeLancey is the 1st District chairman for the Republican Party of Kentucky. He may be reached at republican.chair@gmail.com.

Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.

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