Michael Cianchette is a Navy reservist who served in Afghanistan. He is in-house counsel to a number of businesses in southern Maine and was a chief counsel to former Gov. Paul LePage.
“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained…”
That’s the opening line from Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence. The language was softened in subsequent attempts. But “advancing from subordination” is a good theme for Independence Day 2021.
On Wednesday, Maine officially left its “state of emergency” related to the coronavirus. Our “subordination” to a microscopic pathogen upended our world. In the United States, it is time to declare our independence from the virus.
Yet, like the founding fathers 245 years ago, simply issuing a declaration does not end the matter. Sending King George the famous document signed most notably by John Hancock did not magically, suddenly create the United States. Years of war and bloodshed followed.
The same holds true with the coronavirus.
We are advancing from the pandemic in which we hitherto remained, but that does not mean we are in for clear sailing. The so-called delta variant of the virus is spreading around the world. Four Australian cities went into lockdown to try and slow it down.
Great Britain didn’t take the wayward American colonists’ “Declaration” lying down. They sent some of their top commanders and troops to quell the nacesent rebellion. King George hired Hessians — German mercenaries — to bolster his ranks.
But the Americans had some special things on their side. Ingenuity. Pluck. George Washington. France. And an unflinching belief in their cause. A cause that they won.
The same will hold true with the coronavirus, whether the original Wuhan strain or the “delta variant.” Pfizer and Moderna made headlines with their mRNA vaccines showing outstanding efficacy rates, leveraging a decades-old technology in a new way. But now Maryland-based Noravax has a more traditionally developed vaccine with an even higher effectiveness against the disease and its myriad variants.
The Founding Fathers took their declaration and gave it life by designing an elegant, balanced system of government that sought to protect the “inalienable rights” with which we are endowed by our Creator. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch; the infamous “three-fifths compromise” is but one example.
We can give our declaration of independence from COVID its own life. Designing well-thought out policy from the lessons learned in the pandemic should be our next objective. Augusta has taken its first steps down this path, recognizing freedom and flexibility is what helped us weather the pandemic.
Electronic meetings are now authorized in Maine in certain situations, helping broaden the reach of our governance while integrating disparate areas of the state. Sen. Louis Luchini led the change to state law that allows restaurants to sell cocktails “to go,” opening up entrepreneurial avenues in our food industry. Telehealth services were greatly expanded during the pandemic.
While many of these changes were driven by practical needs during the pandemic, giving Mainers more flexibility should be in order every day. The creativity inherent in everyone is our greatest resource in facing our biggest challenges.
That creativity gave us the myriad vaccines against the virus in record time. That creativity saw restaurants open entirely new business models to try to keep themselves afloat. It led to new technology being deployed to improve health regardless of physical distance.
Because, as we celebrate our independence from COVID and Great Britain alike, America — as a nation set apart, built upon an idea — can continue to do great things in the world. All we need is a little freedom.
Happy Fourth of July.