The COVID-19 pandemic, which is bad enough, is made even worse by an affliction long endemic to our nation—radical individualism, a libertarian mean streak, which has reached unprecedented toxicity during this crisis. Many people refuse to follow public health guidelines such as physical distancing and have followed the lead of our president in the nonsensical politicization of wearing
Several state public health officials, who are just doing their jobs issuing guidelines to protect public health, have resigned under extreme political harassment and death threats from people who resent being told what to do, who proclaim such measures as assaults on their so-called individual “freedoms.” Would these folks have also defied gas rationing in support of the war effort during WWII?
The protection of individual liberties from authoritarian abuses under the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution is one of the most beautiful and necessary foundations of our nation’s system of government. But radical individualism perverts these rights; it is really just selfishness to the point that it has become its own form of tyranny, depriving others of their rights, by violating the social contract of mutual protection and care for others.
With COVID-19, such individuals endanger others, including the most vulnerable citizens, by their refusal to follow public health requirements, going so far as to post conspiracy theory web pages proclaiming that public health officials are creating “Soviet America” and leading us “down the road to communism.”
With 4% of the world population, the U.S. has a quarter of the world’s COVID-19 cases and deaths resulting from the perfect storm of individualistic defiance coupled with terrible national leadership. COVID-19 cases are on the rise, which will only lead to economic ruin and loss of life and liberty unless we face up to our obligations to others.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Letter to the Editor 7/12/20