Will Hampson: Leave us the hell alone

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Cutting the ribbon at Autocar are, from left, Josh Carpenter with the City of Birmingham; Lee Smith of BBVA Compass and the Birmingham Business Alliance; Brantley Fry of Senator Doug Jones office; Center Point Mayor Tom Henderson; Alabama Governor Kay Ivey; Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight; Autocar President James M. Johnston; Autocar Chairman Andrew Taitz; and Congressman Gary Palmer. [Photo Credit: BBA/ Alabama Newscenter]

Governor Kay Ivey had seen the protests. She had seen the growing unrest from the citizens of Alabama. She knew the message they were sending: fully open Alabama. 

In a time where our state, and country for that matter, rarely agree on much, the overwhelming majority of Alabamians had made it clear that we wanted to get back to work. 

We were tired of hamstringing small businesses. We were tired of seeing Walmart overflowing with customers while mom and pop stores were shut down. We were tired of knowing that the cornerstone businesses of our communities would shut down and never return. 

Our ask was simple. We just wanted to be set free. Let people thrive how they see fit. 

We just want Ivey to leave us the hell alone. 

State legislators were calling for it. Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth was calling for it. I was calling for it, and you probably were too. 

The Governor had one clear path forward to meet the needs of our state. 

And she dropped the ball. 

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp made a clear-cut decision to re-open the Georgia economy last week. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made the clear-cut decision to re-open the Florida economy this week. 

Tennessee will soon be open for business. So will Mississippi. 

Governor Ivey saw that. She knew that Alabama would be surrounded by fully open states.

Instead of being the leader we needed, the Governor took the middle road. She pleased nobody. The people that wanted this test run of socialism didn’t get what they wanted, and the people terrified of ending the stay at home orders didn’t get what they wanted either. 

The Governor’s new “Safer at Home” order took half measures. It opened non-essential businesses, but not restaurants. It allowed for elective medical procedures but kept gyms and hair salons closed. 

For everything given, something was kept. 

Some people will be happy. They can go to the beach. They can get their hip replaced. And I’m happy for those people. 

But this is like the government coming in, taking your house and car, giving you back your car, and telling you to be happy. 

And the saddest part is they don’t think you’ll even notice. 

What Governor Ivey’s order effectively says is this: we do not trust you the people to take reasonable steps to protect yourself or the people around you. 

That is what this comes down to. They don’t trust us. They don’t think you are capable of going to a restaurant with your family, staying away from another family, enjoying your meal and leaving. 

But by all means, you can pile into Home Depot. 

This makes no sense. And nobody who signed off on this is dumb enough to think it makes sense. 

The reason we shut down our economy was out of fear that our healthcare system would be overrun. We were told that hospitals would be unable to handle all of the COVID patients. 

But now we know that isn’t the case. We have plenty of testing. Our hospitals are closer to empty than capacity. Some might even have to lay off workers because they are so empty. So why the half measures? 

People want to go to Waffle House. People want to go run on the treadmill at Gold’s Gym. 

And you know what? They have every right to. 

We no longer have to live in fear of a virus that overwhelmingly only kills people with pre-existing conditions. 

If you are vulnerable, I trust you to stay home and stay safe. If you aren’t vulnerable, I trust you to live your life. 

The Governor should give you the same courtesy. She should fully open Alabama, and she should do it now.

Will Hampson is a graduate of Alabama A&M. He hosts Will Hampson Weekends on WVNN in Huntsville, Al. You can follow and contact him via twitter @thewillhampson.