Carnegie Mellon University

No single American can defeat a pandemic

May 06, 2020

No single American can defeat a pandemic

By Publius’ Great-great-great-great Grandchild

America was founded under the essence of freedom for every individual; but sometimes, a crisis looms so large it is necessary to forego some of those freedoms to guarantee the survival of our people and our democracy.

It sounds ironic, doesn’t it? The very thing that makes our nation appealing to the globe, and has for centuries, should be limited for the protection and preservation of our country.

But there are challenges that no one individual can solve in the face of an international emergency. No American could have generated the steel and food production that necessary to defeat the Nazis. No single American could have guaranteed our safety following the 9/11 attacks. Crises can only be defeated when the nation rallies to fulfill the country’s goal, and sometimes that will not happen unless the government mandates it.

The ongoing pandemic is akin to the Second World War. We could not defeat the Axis Powers without the Roosevelt administration stepping in and forcing private industry to produce more of the goods we needed to win the war abroad. We could not have beat Hitler if some suspension of liberties at home were not undertaken. But looking back on the war, does anybody seem to argue these actions were mistakes? We beat the Nazis and emerged as the world’s economic powerhouse.

This pattern rings true as we battle the coronavirus, no single American can defeat a pandemic. And this pandemic cannot be defeated unless we stay inside and ramp up manufacturing on the necessary medical supplies, and these goals will not be achieved without government intervention.

A stay-at-home order seems to be a violation of civil liberties. We are Americans after all, and if we want to go outside, we will go, and government be damned! This kind of thinking in normal times is perfectly rational, but in times of a great crisis, it’s groundbreakingly stupid, not to mention the immorality of putting people at risk.

If governors had not mandated the closure of non-essential businesses, how many more business owners could have put lives at risk to sustain their profits? If governors had not mandated people shelter in place, how many more people could be dead or on the path to a premature visit to heaven at this very moment because some individuals wanted to relax with their friends?

No democracy can sustain itself under the grips of a pandemic. Disease has been shown to bring down some of the world’s greatest democracies (ancient Athens comes to mind) to their knees. Americans are too independent in nature to take the necessary precautions at a level wide enough to flatten the curve, so the government must step in. Government inaction could kill our faith in democracy, while briefly limiting freedoms could prevent its premature death.

If suspending liberties for a brief time allows for our democracy to be sustained, then sign me up. While it may not be a perfect solution, it is far better than destructive inaction that leave millions dead and governments destabilized in its wake.