5/9/20 WSJ By Rick Santorum
Battle lines are being drawn over when and how to reopen the economy. These are hard decisions—the kind politicians prefer to avoid—because they’re both uncertain and consequential. Yet you can tell people’s true character in a crisis—what is most important, what they’re willing to fight for.
Generally the left is on the side of continuing the shutdowns, while the right favors opening up. The left’s main concern is protecting life: Economic activity must give way for the sake of the most vulnerable. The right, while initially compliant, is now in revolt over infringements on personal liberty and the dire economic impact of shutdowns.
Both sides deserve credit for taking a consequential stand on the principled debate between life and liberty. I am especially grateful to Democratic politicians who put the lives of the most vulnerable ahead of the liberty of young, healthy people. I’m also grateful to President Trump and Republicans for initially joining Democrats in that position. Whatever you think of these policies, these officials showed character by standing up for the importance of life—not just any life, but the lives of the old, the sick and often the forgotten. This was a great moment for a society that doesn’t agree in large majorities about much of anything.
As the weather warms, the caseload has fallen in the epicenter of New York, and infections haven’t exploded in less densely populated areas, I agree with my conservative friends that we should return to work. We believe in freedom, but with responsibility—to care for yourself, your family and the vulnerable. As Americans get back to work, they will have
The ‘elective’ procedure blue-state politicians wouldn’t halt for the coronavirus pandemic.
to behave differently to avoid another outbreak of this deadly virus. More will work from home, school from home, change career paths, eat out less, embrace faith and be more engaged with friends, family and neighbors.
We all now understand how little and vulnerable we are. We recognize that life is fragile and not to be taken for granted. When push came to shove we all prized life above the economic freedom to pursue our dreams—and even to preserve our health. Politicians on the left and right shut down surgery centers, cancer-treatment centers and other places that used personal protective equipment, because it was needed on the Covid frontlines and such procedures were considered elective or nonessential.
There was one exception to the closure of these types of medical facilities in states run by Democratic governors. These facilities for 50 years have put economic freedom (and on rare occasions health) over the life of the most helpless, most vulnerable among us. How can governors insist on closing life-saving cancer centers as nonessential while keeping open abortion clinics, whose sole purpose is to end life? How can governors insist on saving every life possible, no matter the hardship to working families in their states, while keeping open facilities so people don’t have to live with the responsibility of raising new life?
In this moment of crisis, our character is laid bare, for better and for worse.
Mr. Santorum served as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, 1995-2007.
Source: The Wall Street Journal