When Red States Act Blue


My state folded.  The people didn’t fail; our government did. Specifically, our governor.  Indiana is a red, Republican state with two Republican US Senators, seven (out of nine) Republican Congressman, a Republican State House and Senate, and, ostensibly, a Republican governor.  Governor Eric Holcomb is his name.  With Republicans like him who needs Democrats. 

       Holcomb won the governor’s seat through a series of unlikely events.  He had never before won elected office.  A state GOP apparatchik, he was a behind the scenes character.  He had run for the Senate in 2016 against two Republican congressmen, Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young.  Unable to compete politically or financially, the lackluster Holcomb quickly withdrew.  

But then lightning struck.   

When Mike Pence’s lieutenant governor, Sue Ellspermann, left the ticket in 2016 to head Ivy Tech, then governor Mike Pence tagged Holcomb to be his running mate.  Donald Trump then tapped Pence for the Vice-Presidential slot.  This opened the door for Holcomb to ride the Trump/Pence coattails to the governorship of Indiana.

Holcomb has since dealt with the Covid 19 pandemic like any Democrat governor would.  Only he is not a Democrat, and Indiana is not a Democrat state.  

On March 23, 2020, Holcomb announced a stay-at-home order through April 7, subsequently extended to May 1.  The arguments against a draconian, one-size-fits-all, statewide lockdown are many.

  Selective, targeted, or more “surgical” interdiction, as Dr. David Katzreferred to it in a widely read Op-Ed on March 20, 2020, in, of all places, the New York Times, makes sense in light of the growing knowledge of the at-risk, vulnerable populations.  These are the elderly and infirm who should be quarantined for their own protection.  The risk of dying from Covid for the young and healthy approaches zero.  Why engage in “diffuse hostilities” or “carpet bombing” with significant “collateral damage” when a more precise, “surgical” approach would suffice?  Selective quarantining of vulnerable populations, such as are found in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice makes sense.  Closing schools full of young, healthy children does not.

Among many absurdities in the Holcomb shutdown was a halt of so-called “non-essential” or “elective” surgery, a misleading term that suggested interventions along the lines of breast implants or facelifts and not medically necessary, albeit non-emergent, procedures.  These would include diagnostic studies, biopsies, cancer screenings, resections, pap smears, mammograms, gall bladder surgery, hernia repair, pediatric, neurosurgical, orthopedic, and cardiac procedures, chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment of brain aneurysms.  These are medically necessary, yet Holcomb foolishly grouped them into the fictitious category of “elective” surgery.  We have heard nothing about the number of patients who have died because of the non-treatment of life-threatening non-Covid medical conditions. 

Holcomb and other governors introduced the notion of “essentialbusinesses” versus “non-essential” businesses as if they could make such an arbitrary distinction.  All companies are essential to their owners, employees, customers, and suppliers.  In doing so, many businesses had to close, some likely never to reopen.

Consider the devastation of not the pandemic, but rather our reaction to it, to the economy, healthcare system, supply lines, schools, tens of thousands of shuttered businesses, and tens of millions of unemployed Americans, a horrible self-inflicted wound.  How has it come that Indiana, a very red state, would have followed the same failed policies of deep blue states?  Particularly when there are eight states that did not issue blanket lockdowns?  They are close to Indiana geographically and, although not identical, are at least similar demographically.  These include North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Iowa.  Also included are Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Utah.  


As of May 6, 2020: According to Worldometer:

Deaths per million for Indiana: 207. 

IA: 70

OK: 65

NB: 43

ND: 41

SD: 38

AK: 28

UT: 21

WY: 12


Unemployment rate as of April 30, 2020:

IN: 16.8% (7th highest in the nation) 

IA: 14.9% 

OK: 14.9% 

ND: 14.1%

AK: 13.2%

WY 10.1%

NB: 10%

UT: 8.4%

SD: 7.2%


Indiana, with a total of 1377 deaths or 207 deaths per million, saw an unemployment rate of 16.8%. NY, with 25,436 deaths and 1,378 deaths per million, had an unemployment rate of 10.5%.  On the other hand, South Dakota had 34 deaths, or 38 deaths per million, and an unemployment rate of 7.2%.     

Holcomb, like so many others, sought to “flatten the curve,” but succeeded only in flattening the economy.  

Daniel Horowitz rightly complained about Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s lockdown of that midwestern state, its low death rate but devastatingly high unemployment rate in comparison with New York.  Walz, however, is a liberal Democrat governor of a blue state.  How much worse is it when it is the Republican governor of a red state with a Republican monopoly on state power? 

Great job Governor Holcomb.

The problem with Holcomb is the problem with Republicans and the Republican Party in general.  They are terrified of stepping out, of bucking the liberal mob, of standing up to the Covid-media.  

Why not, for example, seek the aid of recognized experts and researchers in the field, many of whom have written of their opposition to total shutdowns, and develop an alternative account?  Individuals like John Ioannidis, David Katz, Scott Atlas, Knut WittkowskiJohn Geach, and others, could have assisted in formulating a coherent, science-based argument to counter the false narrative thrust upon us by the Covid-media and their universe of manufactured lies.  Instead of following the herd, he could have educated, reassured, and, ultimately, liberated the state and its people from the panic and hysteria that have consumed the nation.

In the name of “following the science,” this nauseating phrase used endlessly by a litany of political and moral lightweights, as if it were a sacrament instead of the fraud that it is, Holcomb, like so many others, actually abandoned science.  He laughably imagined himself a bold leader making a painful but necessary decision rather than a quisling that sidestepped the opportunity to benefit his state and set an example for the nation.   Thus, he could have challenged the tyranny and fascism on display in many blue-states by, indeed, “following the science.”  Selective quarantining of vulnerable populations was needed, not blanket shutdowns of entire states.  

Rather than protecting Indiana, our economy and healthcare system, our students, schools, and churches, and our civil and religious liberties, Holcomb found his inner Mussolini and locked them all down.  He conferred not with his Republican base, the State House and Senate leadership, and respected experts, but with blue-state Democrat governors.

Again, with Republicans like him who needs Democrats?


May 11, 2020 

Dr. Moss is a practicing Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon, author, and columnist, residing in Jasper, IN.  He has written A Surgeon’s Odyssey and Matilda’s Triumph available on amazon.com.  Find more of his essays at richardmossmd.com.  Visit Richard Moss, MD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.






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