- - Sunday, May 10, 2020

The fabric of the U.S. Constitution has unraveled. The core of our freedom dangles by a single strand of thread as governors and other elected leaders shred the rights our forebears enshrined in the first amendments to the Constitution. 

The officials who are taking the form of petty tyrants believe they have power because they were elected to public office. They think they are powerful, so they immediately begin to abuse that power.

Their performance is antithetical to who we are and our heritage as a free people. Power emanates from the people of this nation. 

Those of us elected to positions in this country, at whatever level — local, state, federal — have no power. Power resides in the individual citizens who delegate authority to those they have chosen. And our authority is limited by the charters and constitutions established by whom? Not by the elected leaders, but by the people.

Whenever an elected official leaps the bounds of that authority, he acts without legitimacy. And, that is what we are seeing throughout the country today — governors, mayors and other elected executives rashly abusing their authority, and instead of protecting the rights of their constituents, searching for ways to constrain them.

Some leaders have malevolent intentions, hoping to arrogate power to themselves. As House Majority Whip James Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, has infamously said, “This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” He meant to use the COVID-19 epidemic as a rocket thrust toward the left. This point was emphasized in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Phase 3 multi-trillion-dollar legislation and her continued efforts to remake the electoral system and expand federal government.

Some have the quixotic hope that no one will get sick, and that all risk will be eliminated. Regardless of the motivation, they have pitted one group of Americans against another, while causing irreparable damage to the essence of who we are as a people.

They are joined by many in the left-wing press who seem to delight in the panic they engender with wall-to-wall, 24-7, coverage of the viral outbreak. They castigate President Trump and his supporters. They revile any who are trying to follow the data and science as science deniers. They have chosen their path to help Mr. Clyburn and his friends to remake America in a fashion that is consistent with power in the government, and not in the people.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” And Thomas Jefferson echoed that sentiment: “He who gives his freedom for safety gets none of them.”

A nation may have security or it may have freedom. 

In a nonpartisan manner, America is now exhausted by the tyranny foisted upon it by governors who claim power rather than acknowledging limitations on their authority. 

Americans see their friends and neighbors paralyzed by fear. Cancer treatments and screenings are being skipped to avoid possible contraction of the virus. Heart attack and stroke victims don’t call for emergency care for the same reason. Suicides up. Domestic violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse has risen. 

While Americans suffer from the mental and emotional stress of the lockdowns, they observe that more than 33 million of their brothers and sisters are now out of work. Their neighbor who mortgaged her house to start a small business has closed her business. Retirees now worry about their retirement accounts, which have been wiped out in the market freefall.

But, while we can go to a big box store, governors, like Illinois Gov. Jay Pritzker, wants to limit the access people have to their places of worship. Elected leaders continue to divide the country: “You are essential, not you. You can go to work, but not you. You can go to the marijuana dispensary, but not to church.” 

And so Shelly Luther becomes the type, the symbol of America’s frustration. She is a salon owner in Dallas, Texas. She has a family to feed. She defied the unconstitutional edicts by a power wielding tyrant in a judicial robe and opened her shop. She was arrested. Really, hard to believe.

She was convicted, and the judge, who watched more than 1,000 convicted criminals released into the same community, sentenced Ms. Luther to seven days in jail. The judge acted criminally. He abused his power. He should be removed. 

On my congressional website, there is a link to the stories of the abuse of power and the destruction of American rights. It is updated every day. There seems to be an almost endless supply of these stories. 

I have introduced legislation to highlight Ms. Luther and the millions of victims of government overreach. 

If we are going to piece the American fabric back together, then its leaders must remember that the authority given to us by the people is to protect the rights of our constituents, not to abrogate them. We can protect the most vulnerable and trust the American people to do what is wise and correct. It’s so many of the leaders that can’t be trusted with power.

• Andy Biggs is a Republican U.S. representative for Arizona.

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