Weary Michiganders got an unwelcome surprise from Governor Gretchen Whitmer

When the Bourbon dynasty, which had been brutally dethroned during the French Revolution, returned to the throne upon Napoleon’s downfall in 1814, the two Bourbon kings tried unsuccessfully to turn back the clock. The French diplomat Talleyrand said of them, “They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

Using that metric, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer is giving the Bourbon monarchs a run for their money. On Friday, she announced that her beleaguered state would remain locked down through the last minute of June 12.

During this time of coronavirus, Whitmer has distinguished herself as the governor with both the harshest and most random lockdown orders. Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order” went into effect on March 23. At the time, several states were going into lockdown mode, ostensibly to “flatten the curve” – that is, to slow the disease’s spread so that medical facilities would not be overwhelmed. Whitmer, like several other governors, quarantined everyone, locking them in their homes except for allowing them to go to major chain stores or to work for (and still get paid by) the government.

Whitmer’s orders included carveouts for activities that raised taxes or advanced social policies (allowing alcohol, pot, and lottery tickets purchases, as well as abortions). At the same time, she almost randomly issued orders affecting harmless or constitutionally protected behavior, such as banning travel to vacation homes, forcing stores to close whole sections, banning store advertising and hydroxychloroquine, and forbidding jet skiing and outdoor gardening.

While Whitmer has backed off of some of her more extreme bans (e.g., store advertising, hydroxychloroquine), that hasn’t stopped her from being controversial. Her administration waged a brutal war against a 77-year-old barber who had to choose between ignoring her ban against personal grooming services or starving.

On Thursday, a judge finally set the matter to rest by ruling in favor of Karl Manke’s barbershop, but not before hundreds of people, both barbers and customers, gathered outside the Michigan Capitol to give and receive protest haircuts. Michigan is not the only state preventing people from grooming, but the optics of waging war against a 77-year-old barber in Owosso, a town of only 15,194 people outside of Lansing, were ugly.

Meanwhile, unlike Whitmer, we’ve all learned a few things: The Wuhan virus is not easily transmissible from casual surface contact, the mortality rate is significantly lower than initially thought, Vitamin D helps, medical facilities have not been overrun, states that opened early have had fewer deaths, and 29.7% of Wuhan virus deaths occurred in the Michigan nursing homes that Whitmer had forced to accept sick patients.

Aside from having a naturally tyrannical streak, Whitmer is also aiming for bigger things than the Michigan statehouse. The Democrats’ probable candidate, Joe Biden, has confirmed that she’s one of the people on his shortlist for a running mate. Whitmer is therefore working to distinguish herself by opposing Trump as hard as possible (see the hydroxychloroquine ban, above).

For the past couple of days, Whitmer and her attorney general, Dana Nessel, another strident leftist, have been garnering headlines by complaining that President Trump failed to wear a mask when he visited a Ford plant in Ypsilanti. Indeed, Nessel went so far as to say that the president is no longer welcome in Michigan and threatened to sue the Ford plan for violating the state’s mask rules. The fact that Trump (a) is regularly tested for the virus and (b) wore the mask when not giving a speech didn’t matter to leftists anxious to show how tough they are.

Given her personality and political posturing, should anyone be surprised that Whitmer has announced that her state’s stay-at-home order, originally scheduled to end next Thursday, will continue until 11:59 p.m. on June 12, with Michiganders still forced to remain flabby and ungroomed?

Earlier this week, the governor did allow social gatherings of 10 people or fewer to resume and retail stores to arrange appointment-only shopping for customers. But things like gyms, hair salons and barbershops remain closed.

Michiganders are already getting restless under their governor’s arbitrary and capricious rule. It’s entirely possible, therefore, that at some point they will break and engage in mass civil disobedience.

The Michigan unemployment rate hit 22% three weeks ago and is still rising. Sooner rather than later, Michigan citizens need to remind their political class that they are public servants, not monarchs. While Whitmer, in true Bourbon fashion, has learned nothing and forgotten nothing, it’s to be hoped that the people of her state will do better than that.

Postscript: This post just touches upon the lockdown. We also know now that Whitmer’s Green policies affected the dams that broke, flooding several communities in an already hard-hit state.