Benevolent Dictatorship is Still Dictatorship | Part II

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So here we are – about three weeks after part I of “Benevolent Dictatorship,” and the dictators have doubled-down.  The governor of Michigan has ordained that visits to friends and relatives, or to a vacation home in the woods – which would be good for social distancing, one would think – are now illegal. I seem to remember that the legislative branch of government makes laws, and the executive branch enforces them. And members of both branches took an oath to uphold the US Constitution, to include its Bill of Rights, as well as the idea that our rights come from God and not the government – or more specifically, not from a governor, a mayor or a county administrator, now all self-nominated potentates.

These government officials, apparently, missed out on a large part of their civics and psychology education, so let’s review a few basics in those areas.

  • Executive Power/Checks and Balances – Lord Acton, a famous 19th century British political philosopher, coined the phrase “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He also wrote that ““History is not a web woven with innocent hands. Among all the causes which degrade and demoralize men, power is the most constant and the most active.” 

Additionally, John Adams wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson on February 2, 1816, 18 years before Acton was born, stating the same idea about the corrupting influence of power: “Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de tres bon foi, believes itself right. Power always thinks it has a great soul, and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service, when it is violating all his Laws…I Say, that power must never be trusted without a check.”

Although space limits my ability to expound upon the myriad of the abuses of executive branch power from New York to Michigan to California, with Nevada in between, the New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wins the gold medal for dereliction of duty in upholding his oath to support the US Constitution.  When asked by Tucker Carlson by what authority he could impose strict social distancing orders that violate people’s civil rights, he replied, “That’s above my pay grade, Tucker…So, I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this. We went to all — first of all — we went to the scientists who said people have to stay away from each other.”

So, if scientists – you know, like the ones that told us climate change would decimate the polar bears, but in actuality, their numbers have remained stable over the last decade – declare that the Bill of Rights needs to be suspended, then that’s that. No judges or courts need to be involved.  Apparently, scientists are now the fourth and most powerful branch of the government, and all will bow to the power of epidemiologists – brilliant predictors whose numbers started at “2 million Americans will die from COVID-19!” but who are now predicting about 60,000 deaths. FYI – the 2017-2018 flu season deaths were – wait for it – about 61,000 according to the CDC.

  • Psychology/neurobiology: People are social animals and need intimate emotional and physical contact to produce the neurochemical oxytocin, which is literally the neurobiological chemical that keeps society functioning in bonds of trust.  Dr. Loretta Breuning, in her book Habits of a Happy Brain, explains the importance of oxytocin:
    • “Oxytocin is stimulated by touch and by trust.”
    • “In humans, everything from holding hands, to feeling supported, triggers oxytocin.”
    • “Friendship bonds stimulate oxytocin.”

Dr. Breuning is the founder and Director of the Inner Mammal Institute, which focuses on explaining the roles and importance of our brains’ neurochemicals. All of the social distancing we are doing is actually training our brains to fear each other as a threat, and that fear produces cortisol, instead of oxytocin. Cortisol is produced when our bodies are in “fight or flight mode,” and in that mode, our immune system function is actually decreased to allow our bodies to focus energy on dealing with the perceived threat.

Additionally, 25 years of research in psychology and neuroscience has shown that loneliness is lethal – and that’s not my opinion.  That is the opinion of social neuroscientist Dr. John Cacioppo who spent 25 years of his life researching loneliness. Check out his TEDx Talk “The Lethality of Loneliness” and his book Loneliness.

Is Dr. Cacioppo right? Look no farther than the recent suicide of two AF Academy cadets in the span of a week under the strain of harsh social distancing orders.  But rest assured, those deaths are merely inconveniences in the mighty, herculean struggle to possibly, maybe, potentially save some unknown, unnamed people, from coronavirus.

I could go on and on for pages about the negative long-lasting effects of teaching ourselves to see each other as a mortal threat, but suffice it to say that the whole history of human societal evolution has been geared towards learning to build trust and relationships.  Now, our benevolent dictators are reversing thousands of years of societal improvement – all the while patting themselves on the back that they are “saving lives,” though if you ask them for the numbers of lives saved and the names of the people saved, they have no answers.  They just merely spout off nonsense to make you feel guilty if you are fed up with being under house arrest for no other reason than you live in a state with coronavirus cases – which is somehow different from the 45 million cases of the “normal flu” during the 2017-2018 flu season. 

And here is the blue-ribbon winner for the best nonsense recently spouted by a benevolent dictator: 

“I understand you’re personally inconvenienced. I understand you’re frustrated and stressed and anxious and you’re feeling pain. Think about we. Think about get past yourself and think about society and think about your family and think about interconnection and act responsibly for everyone else.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, April 14, 2020.

Lost your job because Cuomo shut down tens of thousands of businesses? Can’t pay your rent or your mortgage? Suffering from increased anxiety or depression? All of your AA meetings have been cancelled? Suffering from increased domestic violence?  Not to worry – it’s just an inconvenience! Shame on you for not seeing the most important, all encompassing, number 1 priority in the universe – saving some unknown number of lives from a flu virus that Dr. Fauci himself said would “ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%).”

The consequences of dictatorship, benevolent or not, are always the same: violation of civil rights, poverty, and death, and those consequences are coming to a town near you very soon if we don’t stand up and pushback against the benevolent dictators.  The story goes that when Benjamin Franklin walked out of the Constitutional Convention, an onlooker asked him what kind of government the convention members had produced. He wryly replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Not since the Civil War have we been in such jeopardy of losing the American Republic. Make your voice heard now to your elected officials, in editorials, in any public forum that will listen to you. While we take care of the sick and protect the vulnerable, we will not stand for violations of our God-given civil rights. The Constitution was made for such a time as this – when government leaders would try to take away liberty under the guise of “doing what is best for society as a whole” – the public mantra of every tyrant while they are “violating all God’s laws.”

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