© 2022 Tootie Smith for Oregon. All Rights Reserved.

The Freedom of Mobility

The thought of having to have a vaccine passport to conduct commerce and engage in voluntary transactions with other free individuals is understandably offensive to myself and countless people throughout this country and the world. This is largely because many of us recognize this for what it truly is—another attempt by power hungry elitists to control everything that everybody else does. And we’re pushing back accordingly.

We’ve always taken for granted the fact that we, as Americans, are essentially free to come and go as we please. That ability is based on the many rights included in this nation’s founding documents. And it’s a fairly easy concept to comprehend—where I travel, as a law-abiding private citizen, is none of anybody’s business, and especially not that of the government.

However, there has been a massive push to use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to institute the kinds of heavy-handed measures that Americans would otherwise reject outright.

There’s a popular misconception out there that the rights we’re granted as Americans are somehow derived from the government. It’s simply not true. Because if our rights come from the government, a sudden change in policy could then mean that those rights no longer exist or can be taken away.

Our rights are inherent, meaning that they are an automatic given. Each and every one of us is born free. The purpose of the United States government, as spelled out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, is to uphold, protect and defend those rights.

Those rights exist, even in times of the most dire of emergencies. They can’t be suspended. They can’t be transferred from one group of citizens to another. Most importantly, they can’t be ignored in favor of mandates that have never had the full and legitimate force of law to back them up or justify them.

This pandemic has been going on for over a year and a half now. The average person has spent this whole time trying to keep themselves and their families safe while trying to continue making a livelihood and keeping the bills paid.

The vast majority of Americans and people anywhere on Earth have not had COVID. Of the ones that have had it, the vast majority got sick for a while, but managed to recover and survive.

From the very beginning of all of this, we’ve been introduced to ideas like contact tracing, in the name of preserving public health and combating the virus. The general public even briefly tolerated the temporary closures of many industries and sectors of the economy because we were told we needed to flatten the curve.

But it’s now impossible to ignore the fact that there are larger forces and agendas at work here. Lines have been crossed, and people have grown increasingly, and understandably, weary of these mandates and orders coming in from on high.

I will continue to fiercely oppose even the suggestion that vaccine passports be implemented as a condition of allowing people to live, exist, work, engage in trade and move about as they see fit. Because even though our rights are a given and should be thought of that way, politicians can decide, on a whim, to stop recognizing them. And once that happens, it becomes very difficult to get them back.

Truth and Consequences

Headlines all across the United States have declared for months that our hospitals are completely at capacity. This has been done largely for the sake of shaming people into getting the COVID vaccine.

But the reasons for the strain on our hospitals are far more complicated than that. And they are the result of deliberate public policy decisions that were made years ago.

It was recently reported that Oregon and Washington have the fewest number of hospital beds per capita in the entire United States. Is that because both of these Pacific Northwest states have so many more COVID cases than anywhere else? No. Is it because both states have higher percentages of unvaccinated residents than other states? Also no.

Following the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, Oregon rushed to be the first to implement all of its provisions. Then-Governor Kitzhaber wanted this state to be the model for the new law’s success.

Under his watch, the state created Coordinated Care Organizations for the sake of emphasizing preventative treatments for Oregonians. However, as a result, the number of hospital beds available at any given time is regulated by the state government. Any hospital that wants to add more hospital bed capacity must first seek approval from the state by verifying and proving that they are needed.

When the ACA was being debated in Congress, many people said that its passage would ultimately lead to the rationing of health care in this country. Time has proven their fears to be entirely founded.

Another public policy decision that’s having an adverse effect on our practical ability to combat COVID has come in the form of mandates.

Frontline workers like nurses have been rightly heralded over the last year and a half as the heroes that they truly are. This whole time, day in and day out, they’ve been helping patients get the treatments they need to survive this awful virus and its related symptoms.

Those same nurses are now being told that they must receive the vaccination in order to keep their jobs. Some are refusing and have different reasons for that which are, frankly, none of anybody else’s business. But having this kind of policy in place will obviously exacerbate the staffing shortages already being faced by the health care industry.

This is another example of deliberate public policy decisions being made with little to no public input and having disastrous consequences that we all have to live with.

It doesn’t just apply to health care, either. The City of Portland tried to impose the same vaccine mandate on its police officers.

Rarely does a night go by anymore without a shooting somewhere in that city. Many Portland police have already retired or resigned due to the failure of its politicians to adequately support them in their mission to bring about public safety. When told about the new mandate, the police banded together and pushed back. And you know what? They city backed down.

There are many lessons to be learned here. The first is that public policy decisions, regardless of their original intentions, have consequences that can sometimes be severe and take many years to become obvious.

The second is that by standing united and pushing back, we can remind those who wish to control us that it doesn’t work that way. We are all born with inalienable rights that our government was created to defend, and no temporary crisis or emergency, no matter how bad, is sufficient grounds for taking them away.