While the stock market plummets and essential workers fight on the front lines, going to the beach or protesting the quarantine seems absurd. However, “stupid and crazy” are just a few words to describe protesters during this pandemic. A national phenomenon with devastating consequences, the effects of these protests are beginning to trickle down to the local level.
Citizens across the nation are protesting the social distancing laws set by their states, asserting that these local actions — set to limit the spread of COVID-19 — is an infringement on their rights as Americans. They claim that the effects of COVID-19 are “just like the flu” or overblown by the media so these cautionary actions to stop the spread are unnecessary and are just a way for liberals to hurt the economy in order to shame President Trump.
The first protest was in Michigan followed closely by Trump’s rally cry “liberate Michigan.” From backing false information about the virus, Trump is now only fueling the flames created by these rallies on his social media accounts.
Nevertheless, 66% of U.S. adults say their greater concern is that state governments will lift restrictions too quickly, rather than not quickly enough, according to a Pew Research Center poll. The majority of U.S. citizens don’t seem too willing to end social distancing because of some right-wing gun activists waving a confederate flag.
So why are there so many protests across the country telling the governments otherwise? The answer has mostly to do with funding from pro-Trump agencies: increasing his in-state popularity and dividing his voter poll.
By doing so, Trump is playing both sides of a rigidly campaigned strategy aimed at moderate and conservative voters: a game that has made Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer a frontline player. The majority of protesters have sought to discredit her, along with other Democratic Governors.
Whitmer has issued one of the nation’s strictest stay-at-home orders amidst quarantine, only to be faced with backlash and a smattering of protesters advocating to “Lock her up!” Unsurprisingly, the majority of counteractions come from pro-Trump supporters: a clear nod to Trump’s dismissal of Whitmer’s aggressive steps to combat the disease.
However, there are legitimate reasons for why people want to modify the strict protocols of the quarantine, such as reopening non-essential jobs to provide for their families and themselves. In some places, these anti-lockdown demonstrations spawned counter protests.
For example, in Colorado, healthcare workers blocked traffic at crossroads, according to the Independent. Clearly, by fueling anti-obedience rallies, protesters are only undermining the legitimacy of those facing these genuine problems by turning the spotlight on internal political divisions.
Right now the focus should not be on politics, and the majority of Americans agree. We are currently in a nationwide emergency that has thousands unemployed and left millions without shelter. Now especially is not the time to be arguing like donkeys and elephants or basking on the beach. The waves may seem calm, but internally, America is boiling and it is time we used unity over division to face this virus.