Over the weekend, Tennessee’s Christian governor canceled Christmas. In a special address, Gov. Bill Lee pleaded with citizens to not gather outside of home for the holidays. He asked that businesses allow employees to work from home for the next 30 days if able. He all but begged local officials to enact and enforce mask mandates.
He also claimed executive authority under emergency powers to again limit public gatherings to 10 people or fewer. Under Tennessee law, defiance of an executive order during an emergency can earn you a citation for a Class A Misdemeanor carrying a $2,500 penalty and up to one year in prison.
Contrary to what some in conservative media have claimed, Tennessee has not been shielded from unconstitutional government overreach perpetrated on citizens by their state’s response to COVID-19. I started Tennessee Stands on behalf of such conservatives across Tennessee who are fed up with elected officials’ inaction to secure our individual rights and to restore a proper understanding of the relationship between liberty and government.
We have filed lawsuits against a county mayor, a local school board, and Lee, making the case that the state’s emergency powers statute is unconstitutional. As in a similar Michigan case, I have asserted that our state legislature has unconstitutionally delegated its lawmaking power to the executive branch.
It seems to be a straightforward argument that governors do not make laws. Yet we still await our day in court.
While the governor makes the rounds on national news claiming that Tennessee was the last to lock down and the first to open, local economies are being crippled and education in Tennessee is almost non-existent due to the tyrannical leadership of leftist mayors, county commissioners, local school boards, and local boards of health.
Lee claims that allowing liberty-abusing decisions to be made at the local level is responsible leadership. Tennessee Stands asserts Lee is displaying a complete lack of leadership. On one hand, the governor claims absolute authority to issue a stay-at-home order and declare workers nonessential, yet declines to use the same authority to then open the state.
Over the past few months, Lee’s education commissioner, Penny Schwinn, devised a plan for employees of the state to call and visit homes to issue well-being checks on children across the state, even children birth to age five, who have not even been registered in the public school system. While this plan was halted by conservative legislators due to public outcry, Lee defended Schwinn’s actions.
Recently, it was found that Lee’s administration has been doling out several no-bid contracts tied to the state’s response to COVID-19, one for more than $26 million to Nomi Health, a Utah-based company providing medical supplies and rapid testing for COVID-19. This startup company has never before been in the business of medical testing. Lee is a symptom of the establishment and politics as usual, and cronyism is still alive and well in the Lee administration.
Why are these incidents important to mention? Because this governor was supposed to be different. This governor was elected with the support of grassroots conservatives in Tennessee who believe in strict adherence to our Constitution and the security of God-given rights. Yet Tennesseans ended up with another statist who believes that government’s first priority is making public officials feel comfortable and that the Constitution may be canceled when bureaucrats believe it’s necessary.
We play ball with the GOP. We do what the feds tell us regardless of whether it is in the best interest of Tennessee. And we spend millions of taxpayer dollars spreading the Anthony Fauci gospel and Pfizer’s “safe and effective” propaganda.
In case you have not yet arrived at the point of making your principled stand on true conservatism, let 2020 be your line in the sand. We must lay to rest the relic of Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment and demand that our elected officials, yes, even Republicans, operate only within the authority they are given per their state constitution and the U.S. Constitution, respectively.
Blurred lines are getting us nowhere. And with pending disaster looming over the White House, it has never been more important that state leadership is strong and can stand up to the test of tyranny that is sure to come our way.
Is Lee the kind of governor who can stand up to the forces of Marxism knocking on the doors of Tennessee? Hardly. An ongoing relationship with Bill Gates, direct ties to China, and a renewed use of unconstitutional executive powers clearly make the case that voters were sold a false prophet and it is time that conservatives get serious about demanding better leadership in both the governor’s office and in our General Assembly here in Tennessee.