COLUMN: Defiance is not leadership

Publisher’s note: This column ran in the Nov. 27, 2020 print issue of the Keizertimes. it was erroneously credited to John Morgan. The actual author is John Mangan. We deeply apologize to both John Morgan and John Mangan for the error.

Keizer’s mayor, Cathy Clark, expressed at the Nov. 16 city council meeting that she is “extremely concerned” and “deeply disturbed” (her words, not mine). She believes that there are children out there living in fear that instead of grandma and grandpa showing up for Thanksgiving dinner, it will be the police coming to arrest mom and dad. 

I suppose it is possible that some of these fearful children envision a SWAT team breaking down the front door, with guns drawn, coming to cite, and even possibly to arrest those violating Govern Kate Brown’s most recent orders which are designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. Orders that Mayor Clark sees as “borderline harassment.” The city manager’s assurance that this would not be happening seems to not have helped alleviate her state of being deeply disturbed. 

Anyone who has ever raised children surely knows that they are incredible observers of the world around them. It is very possible that some have heard about the governor’s new restrictions, and if they are old enough to count higher than six, could see that mom and dad with their big holiday celebration are violating those orders. I wonder if the fear a few of those children may be experiencing comes from being worried about getting a potentially deadly disease or that grandma and grandpa or mom and dad might become sick with COVID and die, just as so many already have. 

It would not make for a Merry Christmas. In less than one year over a quarter of a million Americans have died from the coronavirus. With infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID exploding across the country, deaths from COVID will exceed by five times the number of US soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. I certainly hope that Mayor Clark is equally concerned about the first responders, the nurses and doctors, working to the point of physical and mental exhaustion, from not just trying to save the lives of those dying from COVID, but sadly also from trying to console those who cannot visit loved ones in the ICU who are slowly suffocating to death. 

At that same council meeting, state Rep. Bill Post felt the need to encourage people to ignore Governor Brown’s latest order and celebrate in “freedom.” What type of freedom is there when one is in the ICU hooked up to a ventilator? What about the freedom of those working in a COVID ward at the hospital, living in constant fear of either ending up in a bed next to one of the patients they are desperately trying to save, or of infecting a family member when they return home from work?  

It is extremely dangerous to discourage people from following Governor Brown’s new COVID-19 restrictions, restrictions that have been proven worldwide to help. Anyone, and especially an elected official with a public platform, who does so, in some confused conviction about constitutional rights, is directly responsible for the continued spread of this deadly virus. Instead of helping us to all pull together in this final stretch, with a vaccine on the horizon, which is what any good leader would instinctively do, they further spread division among us, and guarantee that many more Americans will unnecessarily contract COVID, become severely ill and possibly die. 

That type of political leadership is not something to be thankful of, but rather should be stopped.