It seems like we are dividing up into sides on COVID-19. Have you noticed? See if you recognize yourself or others taking a side. I wrote down a few of the divisions I’ve been witnessing.
“The virus is apocalyptic.” vs. “This virus is nothing that Americans can’t handle.”
“The data is critical.” vs. “The data is unreliable because it can be twisted.”
“Models are good, and our policy should be based on them in this crisis.” vs. “Models are bad, and we can’t base policy on them in this crisis.”
“This crisis is good because it leads us to socialism.” vs. “This crisis is bad because how it is being handled is a violation of our basic freedoms.”
“Being more like Europe will be good.” vs. “We will be Europe (and that isn’t good).”
“Security at any cost” vs. “Liberty – the yearning of every single soul.”
“Economic health should be subservient to public health (What good is an economy with many, many dead people?)” vs. “Care for public health but not at the expense of the economy. (Healthy people with no jobs leads to different but equally severe public health problems.”
Does this sound to you like we’re dividing up into factions? James Madison, the Father of our Constitution, wrote about factions in Federalist 10. What is a faction? It’s a group of people with the same interest.
Here is a small sample of what Madison says about factions (in simple terms):
-The larger the republic, the larger the faction.
-The bad thing about factions is that factions want what it wants, even at the expense of others.
-Factions think they have a certain measure of power.
-You can remove a faction by destroying liberty or by having everyone think alike. Neither is a good alternative.
-If we destroy our liberty that was hard-fought and blood-bought, “the remedy is worse than the disease.” Madison uses the latter phrase that we are hearing lately.
Be assured, this is not a scholarly summary of Federalist 10. I can’t wrap my brain around Madison’s complete treatise with the country in a health and economic crisis. However, several times in the past week, the word “factions” has stood out to me. I began to think about how Madison’s treatise is idyllic but necessary to establishing our representative republic instead of a pure democracy.
Let’s consider our current COVID-19 factions and view them with an eye on our liberty. We need to begin discussions about having the quarantine end in some areas of the country. Perhaps younger people can return to work and school. Please note, I’m suggesting “discussions.” Before this crisis, we have had a hard time having a discussion in this country without resorting to derogatory terms and identity politics. In fact, everything was turned into a political football. Now, we must lay ruminating aside for a higher purpose. Let’s have the debate on whether economic health can be cast aside to serve public health or vice versa. When will we know if it is the perfect time to return to “normal?” Will we ever recover from this? Or not?
Let’s contact our elected representatives to get involved. Currently, the input of unelected officials continues to alter our way of life. It may be time to get Congress, our lawmaking body, involved in hearing our concerns.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. ??