Letter to the editor: The pro-life party stands by as deaths mount

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To the editor:

An open letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb, Sen. Todd Young and Sen. Mike Braun regarding the COVID-19 response:

I’m currently in self-isolation after learning that I was likely exposed to COVID-19 last week. I’m the only person at my workplace who wears a mask at all times, and I was informed that I was in close contact with someone at work who has now tested positive for the virus. I’m in my late 30s and currently asymptomatic, so I’m optimistic that I will not become severely ill, but this situation is still very troubling. I now have to worry that I may have gotten my wife (who stays at home due to a pandemic-related layoff) sick even though I’ve done everything within my control not to contract the virus. Unfortunately, my employer and a large segment of the public cannot claim to have done the same.

I want you to know I blame you. The approach and mindset taken in response to any crisis is set by those in charge, and the failure to contain this virus at the beginning of the pandemic rests solely on the shoulders of our elected officials and community leaders, starting at the very top. President Donald Trump mishandled the pandemic from the outset by insisting on reopening the economy before measures to track and contain the virus were in place, and then by neglecting his responsibility to lead a federally coordinated effort. His failure of leadership set an example all the way down to the local level.

Our state officials followed along in trying to “balance lives and livelihoods.” If you see that as a balance needing to be struck, then your priorities are misaligned. The first priority — the only priority — should be to protect people’s lives. Only then do you turn your attention to doing whatever you can to keep everyone economically intact. That would have been possible, and still is possible, if your focus were in the right place. Instead, you seem to care more about allowing businesses to stay open and “striking a balance” between making money and an acceptable level of sickness and death.

Loose enforcement of public health guidelines has led to confusion and haphazard implementation. A mask “mandate” without enforcement measures has allowed for individuals to selfishly disregard the health of others. You claim you don’t have the authority to force citizens to wear masks, but you do. If you can fine people for not wearing seat belts or arrest them for driving drunk, you can do something similar when it comes to enforcing a mask mandate. The risk to public health by allowing people to do whatever they want is exactly the same, if not worse in this situation. We’ve seen what happens when we let people determine best practices for themselves: 26.7 million confirmed cases and 456,000 deaths nationwide; nearly 12,000 deaths in Indiana.

Real leadership requires telling hard truths and taking decisive actions, even if they’re politically unpopular or controversial. It is your responsibility to do what is in the best interests of your constituents even if they don’t agree with your decisions. It is also your responsibility to convince them why such steps are necessary. But your fears of a public backlash have crippled your ability to do the right thing and actually protect the people you govern.

The pro-life party has allowed mass death to occur on its watch. Think about that: Despite all of your emotional appeals about the sanctity of life, you haven’t taken the necessary steps to prevent thousands of deaths that could have been avoided. You have failed in your responsibility as elected officials, and there should be a political cost for your miscalculations.

Joshua Stadler

Greenfield