Examining How COVID-19 Lockdowns Curbed American Freedoms

Americans are still able to recall how the COVID-19 Pandemic caused not only the loss of life but also the loss of livelihoods.

As businesses closed, the government grew in power and Americans’ liberties shrank, contends journalist Cheryl Chumley, author of the book “Lockdown: The Socialist Plan to Take Away Your Freedom.”

“It was alarming to me how the left used fear to steal our constitutional, God-given rights,” Chumley says.

Online opinion editor for The Washington Times and host of the “Bold and Blunt” podcast, she has reported on Capitol Hill and covered state and local politics before coming to Washington.

Chumley, who joins this episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast,” says the biggest long-term effect of the government’s response to the pandemic may have been “shifting the mindset of American citizens from one of individualism into one of collectivism.”

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“I wrote ‘Lockdown’ basically as a look back on where the government got it wrong and how the Democrats used it for political gain, but more importantly, looking forward to how the Democrats plan to continue to use a pandemic to segue into the next cause to justify continuing lockdowns,” she says.

Listen to the podcast or read the lightly edited transcript.

Fred Lucas: Today, we have Cheryl Chumley with us. She is a veteran journalist from Washington, D.C., where she is also the online opinion editor at The Washington Times. And she is going to be with us today to talk about her new book “Lockdown: The Socialist Plan to Take Away Your Freedom.” Thanks for joining us.

Cheryl Chumley It is so wonderful to be with you. Thank you so much for having me.

Lucas: Let’s start with a question before we get into the meat of the book. … We’re recording this one day after the FBI raid of President [Donald] Trump’s home in Florida, just wanted to get your take on this and your initial thoughts on that.

Chumley: My take is “wow.” … I’ve been in media so long, watching politics and following how the left just exploits whatever they can to seize individual liberties from Americans. This headline appeared on my screen last night. I was shocked and ran to my office, but I just stared at my TV in the living-room. And my only initial reaction was “wow.”

I just can’t believe that this is taking place in America. A former president of the United States’ personal residence raided by the FBI, by scores of FBI agents. And what’s most interesting is that Trump is somebody who could be facing the sitting president for an election for the White House in 2024. It has all the potential to weaponize the law enforcement system against Trump. And I just think that there’s going to be a backlash against this.

Lucas: OK, right. So let’s jump into the book. Again, the title: “Lockdown: The Socialist Plan to Take Away Your Freedom.” And this looks into or delves in and investigates the entire lockdown year that we had in 2020. Some on the left and certain states carried it well into 2020. It would continue if the left wanted it. But tell us, first, why did this book become a book?

Chumley: Well, I wrote this book because, at The Washington Times, I wrote critically daily from the very beginning of the pandemic about the government’s overreach. This was even when Donald Trump was in office.

And some of the government’s response to the coronavirus I saw as concerning to the security of American liberties. Donald Trump did all of this out of love for America, love and respect for American citizens. The Democrats were just using the fear of the coronavirus to justify seizing individual liberty.

I wrote this book because it was alarming how the left used fear and intimidation to take away our constitutional God-given freedoms. Plus, the more I researched about the facts and the data, the more I realized that the Democrats were trying to steal our liberties. This is where it leads me in the future.

So I wrote “Lockdown” basically as a look back on where the government got it wrong and how the Democrats used it for political gain, but more importantly, looking forward to how the Democrats plan to continue to use a pandemic to segue into the next cause to justify continuing lockdowns.

Lucas: I wanted to ask you because many of the—certainly the election law changes that happened in 2020 were a lot of the things that the left and Democrats had wanted to do already for years. That could be extended to other aspects. I mean, just in terms of regulating what people’s lives or things maybe the left wanted to do for a long time. Was this just a classic case of “never let a crisis go to waste”?

Chumley: Absolutely. Oh, how many, how many ways did the Democrats use that virus to ensure that this crisis was never forgotten.

You mentioned the election laws and actually, it’s been a concern, or it should be a concern for all of Americans that for many years now, the mail-in balloting and the absentee balloting process has been expanded.

It used to exist in this country, but it was quite strict. We had an Election Day and except for a few exemptions and exceptions—No. There were only a few exceptions to the Election Day, such as the military and people traveling. People with disabilities had to vote. Apart from that, it is a sobering fact to consider the actual journey to the polls in order to vote. That gives it a certain dignity.

Democrats have been pushing for expanded mail-in and absentee balloting expansions for years. They won their case, and were able to justify their cause under the coronavirus.

But it’s not just the balloting, it’s not just the election. Look at what they’re doing to piggyback now from the virus into climate change. And this is their next big leap in order to bring about that “Great Reset” we hear about so frequently from the World Economic Forum.

Lucas: And as far as the level to which the pandemic was politicized, I mean, we’ve had pandemics in this country, heard a lot about the comparisons during COVID to the Spanish flu and so forth and there were others, pandemics, but this one was politicized more than any other. Did it just happen to be an election year? Did it happen because so many left-leaning people wanted to defeat Donald Trump? Why was this more politicized that other pandemics?

Chumley: I think it was to go after Trump because if you look at the data early on and you look at how the medical bureaucrats in the federal government were selling the data to justify clampdowns, it doesn’t match up.

One of my first red flags was [Dr.]Anthony Fauci made the dire predictions of death based upon computer modeling when he first came out. And when he talked about computer modeling being used to predict the widespread deaths from this virus, that was a red flag in my head because that’s exactly what the climate change, the radical environmental crowd uses to justify their regulatory controls on citizens. They input numbers based upon their best guesses, and then they use the numbers to call for a radical clampdown on freedoms.

This is how environmentalists use it to create fear and hype and to call for behavioral changes. And that’s exactly what Anthony Fauci was using at the very beginning of this virus to call for controls on human behaviors.

Lucas: One criticism that we have heard of Trump out there from conservatives, some people who’ve supported him in the past, they felt like he listened too much to Fauci, at least early on in the state. Do you believe that was the case?

Chumley: I do, I do. And I write about this in “Lockdown,” that Trump, by his own admission, years and years ago was a germophobe.

And so, if I’m in the deep state—I mean, let’s just play this scenario. If I’m somebody for three-plus years who has been trying to take down Trump and to bring him to his knees, basically, in the political world, and I’ve tried Russia collusion, and I’ve tried this and that for so long, and then here comes this virus, what a great opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for me to exert some influence at the White House, where Donald Trump usually stands strong.

So … that’s just my thought about maybe what this president, what Trump was thinking when he allowed Anthony Fauci such a public platform. And let’s not forget [Dr.]Deborah Birx is also available.

But I think it was a political blunder for him. I would prefer Donald Trump had kept Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx off the public stage. They were huddled in a small room discussing the best-case scenario and how to offset it. But that was only when other people are allowed to speak. Even business people, parents at schools, and constitutional lawyers. And then coming up with a collaborative message on how best to deal with this virus that doesn’t lock down an entire nation, which we now know was pretty needless.

Lucas: Right. Do you think people ignored the Sweden model throughout all of this? I mean, we’ve adopted Sweden into NATO. I heard someone say that we’ve adopted Sweden into NATO recently, but for a whole year we pretended they didn’t exist.

Chumley: Well, Kristi Noem didn’t, [Gov.]Kristi Noem in South Dakota And then, neither did Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida, although Florida was subject to its own lockdowns at the beginning. So it wasn’t completely outside this lockdown chaos in America, but Kristi Noem in South Dakota, she pretty much kept things open and running.

And yes, we certainly did, but you can forgive early on when there’s a new virus, you can forgive early on when you’re being bombarded with all types of data and surveys and reports and scientific best medical advisements, and so forth. That’s why we needed a president to stand strong and keep freedom first and then medical treatment second.

As the weeks and days turned into months, we began to see patterns in our country data that revealed the need for masks and the randomness of social ditancing and the utter targeting against certain businesses.

You could keep open Target, Walmart, and marijuana shops, but you must close small mom-and-pop businesses and churches. And you cannot sing in churches. We should have fought back much harder when this became the way to deal with this virus.

Lucas: OK. Lucas: Okay.

Chumley: Well, the biggest thing—and there are many, and I go through this in my book, both as a warning of what happened and as a warning of what’s to come. The biggest thing I saw from this coronavirus was that the left and the globalist approach to shifting the mindset of American citizens away from individualism to collectivism was the most important.

And for instance, we were told that it was the individual right in America to choose your own medical and health care methods for yourself and your family, that’s how America has been for years. And suddenly under this virus, we were told to put on a face mask, not so much because we believed in the power of the face mask for ourselves, but even if we didn’t, to wear a face mask because it made other people feel more secure, it made other people feel safe.

And when you start doing that, when you start taking the government’s advisements, based on what the government thinks is concerned for the collective, you’re losing your individual right to decide, you’re losing your individualism in America. And you’re moving more into a state of collectivism, which, I think, ultimately is where the globalists and leftists in charge of exploiting the fear of this virus wanted to lead America in the end.

Lucas: Right. Yeah. Mask-wearing became a form o virtue signaling.

Chumley: Yes.

Lucas: For a while.

Chumley:It did.

Lucas: You make some references—one of the chapters talks about from pandemic to climate to capitalism. Could you speak a bit about that?

Chumley: Absolutely. And that’s right out of the Great Reset narrative. And I encourage people to go to weforum.org, which is the World Economic Forum’s own website, and read what the founder Klaus Schwab has written about the Great Reset, because part of the problem is the mainstream media was allowed to sell the idea that this Great Reset was a conspiracy theory. Well, it’s not, it’s in the World Economic Forum’s own words.

Klaus Schwab’s vision for this pandemic was a total overhaul, first of the capitalistic capitalistic system. Instead of having shareholder capitalism like we have in America where businesses go into the business primarily for their shareholders and themselves, he suggests that we transition to a model called stakeholder capitalist where businesses go into the business to make money, make a profit, and more so to appease their stakeholders.

Stakeholders can be defined as anyone and everyone with an interest in the business. So you’re talking Black Lives Matter, you’re talking your radical environmental groups, you’re talking the neighbors who live next door to the business. Everyone can have a say in the new stakeholder business model. This is much closer to communism that it is to free-market capitalism.

As you read these Great Reset documents, Klaus Schwab eventually envisions incorporating radical climate change regulation controls and environmentalism into the pandemic.

One way I noticed in the last few months that this has already started is there was this article in the journal Nature written by two scientists, once again, so-called experts, who said that if we don’t take immediate action to do the government’s narrative about climate change emissions, then people are going to die.

And their logic was that as more humans develop and populate the Earth, it’s going to force animals to leave those areas and to take up residence, take up home population in closer proximity to humans. And they’re going to bring their viruses with them into closer proximity to humans. Their logic says that humans will catch more virus and people will die.

So they’re already making the link and the jump from the virus to environmentalism.

Lucas: OK. Also, one of your chapters is a pretty bold title called “Dress Rehearsal and the March to the New Fascism.” Could you explain that a little bit?

Chumley: This goes back to the globalist vision of America. Look, the globalist vision, call it the One World Order, the New World Order, the Great Reset, or as Joe Biden himself calls it, the Build Back Better agenda—it’s all one and the same.

It’s something that the left, those partaking, those participating in this new vision for the world have done a great job as painting as conspiracy theory and it’s been in the works for decades now.

But it’s also something that America has been the big stumbling block to them bringing about this globalist vision for the world because in America, our exceptionalism is based on the idea that our rights come from God and government is only there to preserve and protect those rights.

This is why we are unique from all other countries in the world. And that’s what keeps our government limited and, more importantly, subservient in its proper role to the people. So that’s been the stumbling block for these fascist-type, tyrannical forces in the world.

America has stood strong against this “One World Order” type of vision. It looks like America is actually crumbling from the inside, because we now have a stupid president in the White House.

Lucas: Do believe there was a socially liberal agenda in this area? Because we do remember, you mentioned this a little bit ago, closing churches, but they were closing churches—at least in California—and leaving strip clubs open. And that … rattled a lot of people. Is that just pushing a social agenda, using the pandemic to justify it?

Chumley: Well, in a way, yes, it was pushing a social agenda because, of course, the tear down of the family unit plays right into the left’s hands to divide and conquer in America. If the family unit is a foundation of society and a society is a foundation for government, then it’s only by natural logical extension that the left would want to tear down the family unit. That’s where all the LGBTQ agenda comes from and so forth.

But when you speak of the churches closing in particular, I saw that as a huge clanging gong because in this country, if our rights come from God and government’s only there to protect those rights, we need to keep God alive and well on the public stage. While God-given rights can be a blessing, they also come with a responsibility.

So it’s no coincidence that as America moves more and more secular, which, of course, polls have been showing that the last couple years that it opens the door for more and more government to step in and exert controls in areas which they have no rightful role to exert controls over.

So the closing of churches in America was the only thing in this entire pandemic. It was the only thing in this whole government overreach to the pandemic. That was surprising to me because I didn’t know churches would fold and conform to a government dictate on such a rapid and widespread basis.

Lucas: It’s possible to also discuss the role of Big Tech or the Big Media in all this.

Chumley: Oh, absolutely. Big Tech booted anyone with a countering narrative, even the guy who was actually one the key developers of these vaccines. They kicked him because they believed his views were radical.

The media’s role in this was absolutely unacceptable. And that includes the so-called conservative media. I’ll just name Fox News. Fox News was very disappointing to me because what the mainstream media did, and I’ll use Fox News as an example, they ran this running case count for weeks in the bottom right hand corner of the television screen that just showed on an ongoing second-by-second basis how many test positives there were, how many case counts there were, how many deaths there were. This only hyped up the fear and panic that the American people were feeling.

What I found most frustrating about the coverage was its lack of context. Test positives are meaningless if they don’t count. It doesn’t matter if a million people in America test positive for the virus. The only thing that matters here is how many of those millions die from it versus recover. Or how many of those million are actually able to recover.

The media did a horrible job of explaining things Americans needed to know. First, how afraid they should be about this virus. Second, how they could protect themselves, their families, and themselves from this virus. This led to the shift in mindset from individualism towards collectivism.

Lucas: It’s all right. I think that’s everything. I am so grateful that you are here. And folks, please check out the book “Lockdown” by Cheryl Chumley, she is a writer for The Washington Times. Her podcast is “Bold and Blunt.” So please check that out. Thank you for joining us.

Chumley: Thank you so much.

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