When red states act blue

My state folded. The people didn’t fail. Our government did. Specifically, our governor.

Indiana is a red Republican state with two Republican U.S. senators, seven (out of nine) Republican congressman, a Republican Statehouse and Senate and ostensibly, a Republican governor. Gov. Eric Holcomb is his name. With Republicans like him, who needs Democrats?

Holcomb won the governor’s seat in a series of unlikely events. He had never before won elected office. A state GOP apparatchik, he was a behind-the-scenes character. He had run for the Senate in 2016 against two Republican congressmen, Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young. Unable to compete politically or financially, the lackluster Holcomb quickly withdrew.

But then lightning struck.

When Mike Pence’s lieutenant governor, Sue Ellspermann, left the ticket in 2016 to head Ivy Tech, then-governor Pence tagged Holcomb to be his running mate. Donald Trump then tapped Pence for the vice presidential slot. This opened the door for Holcomb to ride the Trump/Pence coattails to the governorship of Indiana.

Holcomb has since dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic like any Democrat governor would. Only he is not a Democrat, and Indiana is not a Democrat state.

On March 23, Holcomb announced a stay-at-home order through April 7, subsequently extended to May 1. The arguments against such a draconian, one-size-fits-all, statewide lockdown are many.

Selective, targeted or more “surgical” interdiction, as Dr. David Katz referred to it in a widely read op-ed March 20 in of all places the New York Times, makes sense in light of the growing knowledge of the at-risk, vulnerable populations.

These are the elderly and infirm who should be quarantined for their own protection. The risk of dying from COVID-19 for the young and healthy approaches zero. Selective quarantining of vulnerable populations, such as are found in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospice, makes sense. Closing schools full of young, healthy children does not.

Among many absurdities in the Holcomb shutdown was a halt of so-called “nonessential” or “elective” surgery, a misleading term that suggested interventions along the lines of breast implants or facelifts and not medically necessary, albeit nonemergent, procedures. These would include diagnostic studies, biopsies, cancer resections, gall bladder surgery, hernia repair, pediatric, neurosurgical, orthopedic and cardiac procedures, chemotherapy, radiation and treatment of brain aneurysms.

These are medically necessary, yet Holcomb foolishly grouped them into the fictitious category of “elective” surgery. We have heard nothing about the number of patients who have died because of the non-treatment of life-threatening non-COVID-19 medical conditions.

Holcomb and other governors introduced the notion of “essential businesses” as if they could make such an arbitrary distinction. All companies are essential to their owners, employees, customers and suppliers. Many businesses had to close, some likely never to reopen.

Consider the devastation of not the pandemic, but rather our reaction to it, to the economy, health care system, supply lines, schools, tens of thousands of shuttered businesses and tens of millions of unemployed Americans — a horrible self-inflicted wound.

How has it come that Indiana, a very red state, would have followed the same failed policies of deep blue states, particularly when there are eight states that did not issue blanket lockdowns? They are close to Indiana geographically and although not identical are at least similar demographically. These include North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas and Iowa. Also included are Wyoming, Oklahoma and Utah.

As of May 6, according to Worldometer:

Deaths per million for Indiana: 207

IA: 70

OK: 65

NB: 43

ND: 41

SD: 38

AK: 28

UT: 21

WY: 12

Unemployment rate as of April 30:

IN: 16.8% (seventh highest in the nation)

IA: 14.9%

OK: 14.9%

ND: 14.1%

AK: 13.2%

WY 10.1%

NB: 10%

UT: 8.4%

SD: 7.2%

Indiana with a total of 1,377 deaths or 207 deaths per million saw an unemployment rate of 16.8%. New York with 25,436 deaths and 1,378 deaths per million had an unemployment rate of 10.5%. On the other hand, South Dakota had 34 deaths, or 38 deaths per million, and an unemployment rate of 7.2%.

Holcomb, like so many others, sought to “flatten the curve” but succeeded only in flattening the Indiana economy.

The author Daniel Horowitz rightly complained about Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s lockdown of that Midwestern state, its low death rate but devastatingly high unemployment rate in comparison with New York. Walz, however, is a liberal Democrat governor of a blue state. How much worse is it when it is the Republican governor of a red state with a Republican monopoly on state power?

The problem with Holcomb is the problem with Republicans in general and the Indiana Republican Party. They are terrified of stepping out, of bucking the liberal mob, of standing up to the COVID media.

Why not, for example, seek the aid of recognized experts and researchers in the field, many of whom have written of their opposition to total shutdowns and have developed an alternative account? Individuals like John Ioannidis, David Katz, Scott Atlas, Knut Wittkowski, John Geach and others could have assisted in formulating a coherent, science-based argument to counter the false narrative thrust upon us by the COVID media and their universe of manufactured lies. Instead of following the herd, he could have educated, reassured and ultimately liberated the state and its people from the panic and hysteria that have consumed the nation.

The justify themselves as “following the science,” a sickening phrase used endlessly by a litany of political and moral lightweights as if it were a sacrament instead of the fraud that it is. Holcomb, like so many others, actually abandoned science. He imagined himself a bold leader making a painful but necessary decision rather than a quisling who sidestepped the opportunity to benefit his state and set an example for the nation. He could have challenged the tyranny and fascism on display in many blue states by indeed “following the science.” Selective quarantining of vulnerable populations was needed, not blanket shutdowns of entire states.

Rather than protecting Indiana, our economy and health care system, our students, schools and churches and our civil and religious liberties, Holcomb found his inner Mussolini and locked them all down. He conferred not with his Republican base, the Statehouse and Senate leadership or the respected experts but with blue state Democrat governors.

Again, with Republicans like him, who needs Democrats?

Dr. Richard Moss, M.D., a surgeon practicing in Jasper, was a candidate for Congress in 2016 and 2018. He has written “A Surgeon’s Odyssey” and “Matilda’s Triumph.” Contact him at richardmossmd.com or Richard Moss, M.D. on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send comments to [email protected].