There’s been a lot of talk of renewed lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise here in Maine and around the nation. For all our sakes, let’s hope it’s just mere talk.

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

Joe Biden’s prediction of a “dark winter” during the final presidential debate was one of the bleakest things the Democrat said during the never-ending campaign. But the prediction might just come true if he attains the presidency and governors around the country, including Maine, follow his lead by reimposing lockdowns in an attempt to reduce coronavirus cases.

That would send the economy tanking, and a glance at recent headlines shows we’re already headed toward the economic brink, as Democrat governors begin locking down certain sectors of their state economies.

“Economy braces for fresh wave of pain as virus triggers shutdowns,” read the Washington Post on Sunday. The sub-headline read: “The U.S. is in danger of squandering the hard-won progress it has made in rebuilding the economy since spring.”

The most recent Maine Sunday Telegram similarly reported bleak news:

“Pandemic strands thousands of Mainers in long-term unemployment.”

“Maine economy added just 4,700 jobs in September, fewest in past 5 months.”

These are not hopeful signs for the near-term future of Maine or the nation. Our government is wreaking havoc by micromanaging our jobs, our ability to travel and even our home life, all in a vain attempt at squashing a virus that spreads unceasingly despite the government’s attempts to stop it.

The government needs to realize it will never stop cases. It needs to allow business to open as usual while encouraging the continued use of protective measures such as face masks and physical distancing and making sure hospitals have the ability to treat patients. It also needs to encourage vulnerable populations to stay at home.

We don’t need lockdowns that simply delay the inevitable spread and cause economic pain for everyone; we need to trust people to do the right thing and protect the vulnerable.

One hopeful sign is the reconvening of the Maine Legislature.

It seems we can say good riddance to useless House Speaker Sara Gideon, with Democrats nominating a new leader, Rep. Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford, just last week. Perhaps Fecteau and the rest of the Legislature can show some spine and overturn Gov. Janet Mills’ decrees imposing harsh shutdowns. (I won’t hold my breath, though, since Democrats seldom turn on each other, despite the desperate needs of their constituents.)

Lest we forget, Mills has run Maine as a despot since March 15, when she declared a state of emergency, with Gideon providing no pushback. As a result, the people of Maine have had no input on how Maine manages the pandemic. Shame on Democrats for allowing this to happen. And now Mills is talking about further shutdowns as case numbers rise. This simply can’t happen again.

Overprotective Democrat officials are holding us back with business closures, travel bans and defeatist morale. Such lockdowns are the way of authoritarians. In a free society, governments should offer recommendations, not requirements. Businesses should be allowed to operate as usual, and those in mortal fear of the virus can stay safe at home.

Moreover, we need some positivity if we are to persist through Biden’s predicted “dark winter.” Trump has buoyed us thus far with hopes of a vaccine and promises of no new lockdowns, but he might be gone come January and we’ll be left to Negative Nellies such as Biden and Mills, who offer no hope, just more government intrusion.

Left to their own devices, we’ll have a dark winter indeed.

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