Founding Father Patrick Henry’s famous words still ring true today as Mainers’ personal and economic liberties are trampled by an overreaching state intent on preventing further deaths by the coronavirus.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

“Give me liberty, or give me death” is what Henry said to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, helping to motivate the American colonies to declare independence from Great Britain. The phrase has been borrowed and truncated in neighboring New Hampshire, where the state motto is “Live free or die.”

Maine’s motto “Dirigo,” on the other hand, comes from Latin for “I lead.” That may have been the case under former Gov. Paul LePage (who, thankfully, this week declared his 2022 candidacy for Maine governor).

But our new motto, under Gov. Janet Mills, should be “I follow” because Mills is simply following the lead of other liberal Democrat governors around the country as they continue stay-at-home orders and clamp down on freedom.

Mills last week made the fatefully bad decision to extend her stay-at-home orders. This will be her lasting legacy. Her goose is cooked, as is ours. She will be remembered for this inept, burdensome and, at times, laughable, edict. Check out the incoherent hilarity for yourself at

Why she allowed hair salons to open May 1 but isn’t allowing gyms and nail salons to open until June 1 and tattoo and massage parlors to open until July makes no sense. These are all close-quarter activities. If one is allowed, all should be allowed.

So many great Maine businesses, currently on lockdown, will never reopen because of Mills’ heavy-handed approach. Time is of the essence. Many agreed with the original 14-day lockdown to “flatten the curve” and save hospitals from being overrun, but we are now two months into this stay-at-home experiment, and businesses are failing and people are suffering.

If Mills indeed trusted the people to do the right thing, we’d be open for business yesterday. But since she doesn’t trust us to practice good hygiene as we restart the economy, she’s making sure it doesn’t open, just to be on the safe side. Rather than trusting her proverbial children – the Maine people – Mills’ motherly instinct is directing her policy decisions.

Gov. Mills reminds me of an overprotective mother. She sounds like one during her speeches. Her tone is one of concern and gentle cajoling and convincing us she knows best and that we can take comfort in her wise words. It is truly annoying.

LePage, on the other side of the spectrum, was the gruff father figure letting us children run and play and possibly get hurt with a philosophy that individuals can manage their personal and professional lives better than the state.

With Momma Mills at the helm, however, we’ve tilted the other way with a government led by a helicopter parent, hovering over our every move as if we need guidance and tender loving care every baby step of the way. She doesn’t want her children to suffer or die, so she’s taking every precaution regarding the virus.

The problem is, death will get us one way or another. By staying home we may avoid a virus-caused death but there are other literal and figurative deaths we’ll experience: spousal abuse, drug overdose, suicide, child abuse, loss of dignity and pride, laziness, general despair and the ruination of the economy.

Momma Mills, please amend your executive order and trust us, the people of Maine, to responsibly reopen the economy. Don’t choke us to death with your loving embrace.

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