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COVID-19 means we need each other, now more than ever

getty: A man enters a Shoe City store as Los Angeles County retail businesses reopen

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right. Well, she is also wrong. Maybe it is better to say she is half right.

Recently as reported in the New Yorker, the freshman congresswoman said that “when disaster hits” people need to look out for one another, “even if it’s just in our neighborhood, even if it’s just on our block.”

What AOC gets wrong is when she argues that looking out for your fellow American is somehow contrary to “the old frameworks” of our founding that she derisively claims is when “it’s every person for themselves.”

The reality is that individualism and volunteerism are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are one and the same — and they have been the defining hallmarks of the American experience. That’s “the old framework,” and Americans have been excelling at it for 244 years. We need that Americanism. We are all in this together — despite what agenda-driven activists and pundits say.

The division, partisan attacks and finger pointing are counterproductive to getting America back on track. We should be coming together in common cause against a mutual, but invisible enemy. Beyond vaccines, social-distancing and face masks, we need each other. This is a time for us to unite America.

Loved ones have been lost, important events like school graduations, church services and the birth of siblings, nieces and grandsons have been missed. People have lost access to employment and the ability to fulfill and meet basic human needs. People are suffering — and not just here in America, but everywhere — and they often are suffering alone.

Americans know the risks and they have shown a willingness to take precautions and make sacrifices for the good of the country — but they also know that there are risks to every action we take. It is a false choice to force a public health debate that makes people choose between lives and livelihoods.

Humans are social beings. We need community. The mental health implications of joblessness and isolation are staggering. Containment cannot be the only measure when it comes to the health of our fellow Americans. Our state and local leaders are trying to do what they think is right, but giving the American people a binary choice that seems dependent on party affiliation is giving them doubts.

We all have been doing our part to flatten the curve, but keeping people locked away indefinitely waiting on a vaccine is not realistic, and the American people know it.

Scott Rasmussen’s recent survey found that only a slim majority of Americans polled still think that the lockdowns have been better for us than not. Another survey showed that only 34 percent of those polled trusted government to make better decisions on reopening than everyday Americans.

Americans are already rising to the challenge to take care of one another. Children are looking in on their parents, neighbors are checking on neighbors and strangers are helping strangers because it is the right thing to do regardless of government-imposed restrictions.

We can be safe and productive. All 50 states are in some form of reopening — because they know people are in need and Americans are willing to help. They just need to be able. Get them back into their neighborhoods and on their blocks. Look after one another. We are all in this together and we need each other right now.

Lisa B. Nelson is the chief executive officer of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the country’s largest and oldest membership organization of state legislators, who are dedicated to individual liberty and free enterprise. Follow her on twitter @LisabNelson.

Tags ALEC Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez coronavirus lockdown coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 economic reopening Social distancing

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