Payton Perspective: How did we allow unelected officials to make decisions affecting millions of Americans?

As most Californians and Americans shelter in place, the children are being homeschooled with online learning, high school and sports tournaments and championships have been cancelled, professional sporting events postponed, movie theaters closed and churches holding online services, the question that comes to mind is how did we allow unelected officials to make these decisions that are not only negatively affecting millions of Americans, but limiting our God-given, constitutionally-guaranteed, First and Second Amendment rights of freedom of religion and assembly, and the right to bear arms. Plus, their decisions are creating potentially long-term devastating effects to our economy.

There have been some positive results and responses to our current situation, from the outpouring of generosity and hospitality from Americans both old and young, rich and poor, as well as the quick response by many in the American business sector to retool their manufacturing capabilities to meet the demands of the healthcare industry.

Yet, it’s the county health officers, not the elected members of the county Board of Supervisors who issued the shelter in place orders. It was the state health officer who, a few days later, issued the statewide stay at home order, which our elected governor announced and issued an executive order to support. It wasn’t our elected school board members who closed the schools, but our superintendents who – I was surprised to learn – have that authority and exercised it.

So far, 10 million Americans who have been thrown out of work as a result, have filed for unemployment, because millions of businesses are closed. That means they can’t pay their employees, their rent to their landlords, nor pay their suppliers, who in turn can’t pay their employees or bills.

Now, we have a conflict over which businesses and workers are considered essential, among the county, state and federal governments. Can residential construction continue or not? Are Realtors essential or not? That depends on which county you live in based on the determination of that county’s health officer. Should that be the way it’s decided and who should be deciding it, and affecting two of the major industries in our nation?

The statistics show most people won’t contract the virus, because most of us are generally healthy. Most of those who do won’t need to be hospitalized and the ultimate fact is very few of those who are hospitalized will die from it. Plus, many who have died had other, underlying health challenges.

Add to that the fact there are conflicting projections of how many people will actually be affected by or die from the Wuhan/coronavirus/COVID-19. Also, it’s not affecting each county, state or even each nation, the same.

The bottom line is, too much power has been placed in the hands of those with no accountability to “we the people” and all of them who have made such decisions have a guaranteed, government salary and benefits. So, their decisions of closing businesses and ordering most of us to shelter in place aren’t affecting their ability to earn a living and pay their bills.

This is a democratic republic, a government of law with elected representatives who pass and implement those laws. Once this is over, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later, we the people need our elected representatives to take back control of our county, state and nation, and change who gets to make these decisions in the future. We need our elected officials to make the common sense, balanced decisions, and protect our collective interests, instead of abdicating their rightful leadership roles to non-elected officials.

In our country and with our form of government, non-elected officials are supposed to make recommendations to our elected officials who answer to “we the people”. Then it’s the elected official’s responsibility to make the final decisions.

Yes, good health is number one. But being able to provide for ourselves and our families, now and for the long-term, is a close and possibly equal second. There must be a balance between protecting the public health with the ability for individuals to meet their own needs and those of their families.

Here’s what we need our elected leaders to do as soon as possible, to get us back to our lives: require those who are vulnerable, over age 70 or with health challenges, to self-isolate and shelter in place, while the rest of us get back to work, while being careful to wash our hands, sneeze and cough into our elbow bends, social distance as much as possible, wear masks, and wipe down surfaces, etc.

Elected officials, it’s time to step up and take back control of the government we elected you to lead.

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