Capitol Briefing

By Gabe Firment

I have the coronavirus. By God’s grace my symptoms have been very mild so far and I pray daily that I am spared the worst of this serious illness that has affected so many across our state and nation in 2020.  Without question, the virus can be deadly for the elderly and for those with underlying health conditions. I have personally lost friends to the virus, and I have had family members hospitalized for treatment. My heartfelt condolences and sincerest sympathies go out to all those who have tragically suffered loss at the hands of Covid-19.

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, it is worth noting that three of the things we are usually most thankful for this time of year are in peril – our health, families, and freedom. We are seeing significant increases in the number of positive coronavirus cases across the country and here at home, prompting some Democratic governors and mayors to issue new stringent lockdown orders. Some of the emergency orders go so far as forbidding families from gathering for Thanksgiving, mandating mask usage inside private homes, and threatening fines and/or prison for those found in violation of these oppressive dictates. 

It is critical that in the midst of dealing with this public health crisis that we do not allow our essential liberties and freedoms to be quashed by the false promises of security offered by authoritarian bureaucrats and overzealous politicians. We must balance public health concerns with our fundamental rights to worship, assemble, and earn a living. In many instances, the leftist politicians issuing these restrictive emergency orders have lost all credibility as they lend their support to violent street protests and dine maskless in swanky restaurants, while banning church services, closing schools, and ordering families not to gather for holiday celebrations. 

I am concerned that we may soon see Gov. Edwards issue a renewed emergency proclamation that moves the state back to a more restrictive phase or even to a complete shutdown of the economy. While I appreciate the enormous pressure on the governor to protect the health of Louisiana’s citizens, I would urge him to consider that we are a free people capable of making our own decisions about the health and well-being of our families. As Americans, we are a fiercely independent people with an innate desire for autonomy and self-determination.     

400 years ago this month a small band of Puritan settlers, fleeing religious persecution in Europe, landed at Plymouth Rock in search of better lives for themselves and their children. On November 21, 1620 the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact, a short but profoundly important document that laid the foundation for our founding fathers to proclaim that governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed”, and that “it is the Right of the People to … institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  We must not allow fear of this virus to erode 400 years of freedom and self-reliance started by the brave souls who sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower so many years ago.

In November of 1621, one year after arriving in the New World, the Pilgrims would celebrate the First Thanksgiving in celebration of God’s providence and protection over their lives. I can confidently say that even in the midst of uncertain elections, devastating storms, and a deadly virus, the United States remains the greatest nation on the face of the earth and the defender of freedom across the globe. I pray that a year from now as we prepare to celebrate our 400th Thanksgiving Day, we are still a free and sovereign people who reside in that shining “City Upon a Hill” envisioned by those early Puritan settlers.

I hope that everyone in District 22 and throughout Louisiana can enjoy this Thanksgiving and take time to appreciate God’s blessings even during troubling times. And let us also consider the words from John Winthrop’s famous 1630 sermon as we leave 2020 behind us with hopes for a brighter future for our nation and state: “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.”