Local Commentary

Editorial: Our Governor as Our Leader

For Falls Church, we are lucky to have Dr. Ralph Northam as the governor of our state of Virginia. If you compare his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic to other southern governors, especially those in Georgia and Florida, then we must conclude that his wise leadership stands out. While those governors are pushing precipitously to reopen businesses and public places even as the pandemic continues to rage, Northam is solidly among those leaders who are not only resisting the temptation to end quarantining policies too soon, but is sticking firm with his earlier order that nothing is really going to change before June 10, and to be reevaluated at that time.

Make no mistake about it, Dr. Northam is our leader in responding to this pandemic. Or, maybe we can say that he, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan are our collective leadership, since all three in this region are pretty much on the same page when it comes to handling this crisis. This is critical since, as it goes without saying, the coronavirus respects no political boundaries, and the only way it can be contained in this area must be on a regional basis. Our view is that these leaders have all done a good job, especially in the face of such an egregious lack of leadership from the White House.

We hate to contemplate the consequences of an increase in tensions between our governors and the White House, including the president’s attorney general. That U.S. Attorney General William Barr says he is considering action against states that are resolute in their commitment to firm anti-Covid-19 efforts because they may be violating personal freedoms of citizens is a particularly ominous development. Is it going to become unlawful to protect human life? How would this play out as our strong local leaders refuse to comply with federal orders to undo their protective policies? No one wants to even envision what this might look like depending on how aggressively this could be pursued.

Proposing that commerce be elevated in its importance over human life, frankly, is little less than a modern day equivalent of what has led to some of the ugliest periods in human history.

But it is bad enough that Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp is relaxing his state’s social distancing policies by this Friday, a move that President Trump is encouraging despite his own guidelines that opening up should not occur before 14 days of a steady decline in reported new cases of infections. The pressure is on all the governors, including ours, to do similar things, and for Dr. Northam like his regional colleagues and the foremost national spokesman on behalf of sane state leadership, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, to stand up against that pressure is not being done without a strength of resolve on behalf of constituents under their care that we can all feel proud of and thankful for.