Rules for Thee but Not for Me

September 1, 2021 Updated: September 1, 2021


If there’s one central narrative to the restrictions throughout the pandemic, it has most certainly been “rules for thee but not for me.” As lockdowns have dragged on, the very leaders who formulated and imposed controls on their subjects have found their own rules impossible to follow.

The examples are endless: Gavin Newsom’s posh dinner with lobbyists at French Laundry, Bill DeBlasio’s New Year’s Eve dance in an empty Times Square, Nancy Pelosi and Lori Lightfoot’s hair salon scandals, and even Barack Obama’s recent maskless Martha’s Vineyard birthday bash amid the rise of the Delta variant.

While of course safety and precautions are of the utmost priority, our leaders have insisted on imposing blatantly unsustainable restrictions. They have succeeded in dampening our economy and our quality of life in the process while exempting themselves from the resulting inconveniences.

Our leadership class has championed restriction “for our safety” while evidently not all that concerned about their own, demonstrating a sort of paternalistic contempt for the American people. They, of course, are able to act at their own discretion, but they deprive their subjects of the agency to do the same.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, governmental jurisdiction has bloated to an unprecedented extent under the guise of safety. While the need for decisive leadership was critical in the pandemic, our leaders filled that void with overzealous, power-grabbing behavior rather than rational and science-based caution.

It appears we have opened a Pandora’s box. In the past year, government has reached directly into the lives of Americans to an extent never seen before. The powers that be have succeeded in anointing themselves as a new ruling class rather than the representative leaders they were elected to be.

The “rules for thee but not for me” attitude is fundamentally antithetical to our representative democracy and is a blatant breach of our constitutional contract with our leaders. Meanwhile, the general trend toward acquiescence has been frightening.

Fear, both rational and irrational, has been the primary driver of the American response to the pandemic. This frantic attitude was largely born out of pre-chewed, fear-mongering media lines and alarmist experts. The situation has bred a pure deference to authority and blind institutional faith.

Many Americans have continued to zealously yield to the narrative no matter how unscientific and tyrannical the fallout has become, thus absolving themselves of the responsibility of thinking critically and independently. This is a tendency that is in fundamental conflict with the American spirit.

Our nation’s allergy to tyranny sparked our struggle for independence. And yet, today we’re willingly handing over those hard-fought liberties—the very lifeblood of American freedom—to a new generation of homegrown tyrants eager to capitalize on the tragedy and chaos of the pandemic.

If we’re to restore our national spirit, such acquiescence is no longer tenable. As the pandemic drags on and new lockdown restrictions stifle liberty yet again, we must rise to the occasion and demand a new path forward.

America’s leadership and its people must once again champion civil liberties and the right of the individual to self-determination. It need not be a partisan issue. In fact, it can be a unifying one. Left–right spats aside, a recommitment to our national principles and to protecting our nation’s crown jewel of freedom will be crucial if we’re to secure a future built on liberty.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Rikki Schlott is a writer and student based in New York City. As a young free speech activist, her writing chronicles the rise of illiberalism from a Generation Z perspective. Schlott also works for "The Megyn Kelly Show" and has been published by The Daily Wire and The Conservative Review.