Americans still remember how the COVID-19 pandemic led not only to the loss of lives, but the loss of livelihoods.
As businesses closed, the government grew in power and Americans’ liberties shrank, contends journalist Cheryl Chumley, author of the book “Lockdown: The Socialist Plan to Take Away Your Freedom.”
“It was alarming to me how the left used fear to steal our constitutional, God-given rights,” Chumley says.
Online opinion editor for The Washington Times and host of the “Bold and Blunt” podcast, she has reported on Capitol Hill and covered state and local politics before coming to Washington.
Chumley, who joins this episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast,” says the biggest long-term effect of the government’s response to the pandemic may have been “shifting the mindset of American citizens from one of individualism into one of collectivism.”
“I wrote ‘Lockdown’ basically as a look back on where the government got it wrong and how the Democrats used it for political gain, but more importantly, looking forward to how the Democrats plan to continue to use a pandemic to segue into the next cause to justify continuing lockdowns,” she says.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Fred Lucas: We have with us today Cheryl Chumley. She is a veteran journalist in Washington, D.C., and she is the online opinion editor for The Washington Times. And she is going to be with us today to talk about her new book “Lockdown: The Socialist Plan to Take Away Your Freedom.” Thanks for joining us.
Cheryl Chumley: It is so great to be with you. Thank you for having me.
Lucas: One question before we jump into the meat here of the book. … We’re recording this one day after the FBI raid of President [Donald] Trump’s home in Florida, just wanted to get your take on this and your initial thoughts on that.
Chumley: My take is “wow.” … I’ve been in media so long, watching politics and following how the left just exploits whatever they can to seize individual liberties from Americans. But when I saw this headline come across my screen last evening, I ran out of my office and just stared at the TV in the living room. And my only initial reaction was “wow.”
I just can’t believe that this is taking place in America. A former president of the United States’ personal residence raided by the FBI, by scores of FBI agents. And what’s most interesting is that Trump is somebody who could be facing the sitting president for an election for the White House in 2024. So it has all the earmarks of weaponizing the law enforcement system against Trump. And I just think that there’s going to be a backlash against this.
Lucas: OK, right. So let’s jump into the book. Again, the title: “Lockdown: The Socialist Plan to Take Away Your Freedom.” And this looks into or delves in and investigates the entire lockdown year that we had in 2020. Some on the left and some states carried it well into 2021, even. And I guess if the left had their way, it would still be going on. But I guess, tell us first, why did you decide to write this book?
Chumley: Well, I wrote this book because, at The Washington Times, I wrote critically daily from the very beginning of the pandemic about the government’s overreach. And that even included when Donald Trump was in the White House.
And some of the government’s response to the coronavirus I saw as concerning to the security of American liberties. But at least Donald Trump did everything he did out of love for America and love and regard for American citizens. The Democrats came in and they just exploited the fear of the coronavirus in order to justify seizing individual liberties.
So I wrote this book because it was alarming to me how the left used fear to steal our constitutional God-given rights. And more than that, the deeper I dived into the research about what was going on and the data versus the narrative that the Democrats were using to steal our liberties, where this leads in the future.
So I wrote “Lockdown” basically as a look back on where the government got it wrong and how the Democrats used it for political gain, but more importantly, looking forward to how the Democrats plan to continue to use a pandemic to segue into the next cause to justify continuing lockdowns.
Lucas: I wanted to ask you because many of the—certainly the election law changes that happened in 2020 were a lot of the things that the left and Democrats had wanted to do already for years. And that could probably carry into some other aspects. I mean, just in terms of regulating what people’s lives or things maybe the left wanted to do for a long time. Was this just a classic case of “never let a crisis go to waste”?
Chumley: Absolutely. And my, how many, so many ways the Democrats used that virus to never let that crisis go to waste.
You mentioned the election laws and actually, it’s been a concern, or it should be a concern for all of Americans that for many years now, the mail-in balloting and the absentee balloting process has been expanded.
It used to be in this country, it was pretty strict. We had an Election Day and except for a few exemptions and exceptions—No. 1, the military, of course, but others, people who were traveling maybe, or people who had disabilities, except for those few segments, most Americans had to make it to the polls on time and they had to vote. And aside from that, being a sort of sobering reality of think about what it takes to vote and you have to actually physically go to the polls to vote. And that kind of gives it a certain amount of dignity.
The fact is Democrats have just been pushing for expansions in mail-in balloting and absentee balloting for years. And they finally got their cause, their justification under the coronavirus.
But it’s not just the balloting, it’s not just the election. Look at what they’re doing to piggyback now from the virus into climate change. And this is their next big leap in order to bring about that “Great Reset” we hear about so frequently from the World Economic Forum.
Lucas: And as far as the level to which the pandemic was politicized, I mean, we’ve had pandemics in this country, heard a lot about the comparisons during COVID to the Spanish flu and so forth and there were others, pandemics, but this one was politicized more than any other. I mean, was that only because it was in an election year? Was it because so many on the left wanted it as a way to beat Donald Trump over the head? What was the reason this might have been more politicized than past pandemics?
Chumley: I think it was to go after Trump because if you look at the data early on and you look at how the medical bureaucrats in the federal government were selling the data to justify clampdowns, it doesn’t match up.
One of the early red flags for me was [Dr.] Anthony Fauci, when he came out and made these dire gloom and doom predictions of death based on computer modeling and he did that early on. And when he talked about computer modeling being used to predict the widespread deaths from this virus, that was a red flag in my head because that’s exactly what the climate change, the radical environmental crowd uses to justify their regulatory controls on citizens. They input numbers based on their best guesses and then they take the numbers that are output to call for radical clampdowns on freedoms.
And so environmentalists use this to create fear and hype, to call for controls on behaviors. And that’s exactly what Anthony Fauci was using at the very beginning of this virus to call for controls on human behaviors.
Lucas: One criticism that we have heard of Trump out there from conservatives, some people who’ve supported him in the past, they felt like he listened too much to Fauci, at least early on in the state. Do you think that was the case?
Chumley: I do, I do. And I write about this in “Lockdown,” that Trump, by his own admission, years and years ago was a germophobe.
And so, if I’m in the deep state—I mean, let’s just play this scenario. If I’m somebody for three-plus years who has been trying to take down Trump and to bring him to his knees, basically, in the political world, and I’ve tried Russia collusion, and I’ve tried this and that for so long, and then here comes this virus, what a great opportunity. What a great opportunity to exert some influence in the White House where normally Donald Trump would stand strong.
So … that’s just my thought about maybe what this president, what Trump was thinking when he allowed Anthony Fauci such a public platform. And let’s not forget [Dr.] Deborah Birx as well.
But I think that was a political misstep for him. I would have preferred if Donald Trump had kept Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, and all the medical bureaucrats off the public stage, huddled in a room discussing the best-case scenario for this virus and how to offset its impacts, but only in context of bringing in other people to discuss it, too. Business people, parents in schools, constitutional attorneys even. And then coming up with a collaborative message on how best to deal with this virus that doesn’t lock down an entire nation, which we now know was pretty needless.
Lucas: Right. Do you think people, I guess, ignored the Sweden model during all this? I mean, we’ve adopted Sweden into NATO. I heard someone say that we’ve adopted Sweden into NATO recently, but for a whole year we pretended they didn’t exist.
Chumley: Well, Kristi Noem didn’t, [Gov.] Kristi Noem in South Dakota. And later on neither did Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida, though Florida went through its own lockdowns early on. So it wasn’t completely outside this lockdown chaos in America, but Kristi Noem in South Dakota, she pretty much kept things open and running.
And yes, we certainly did, but you can forgive early on when there’s a new virus, you can forgive early on when you’re being bombarded with all types of data and surveys and reports and scientific best medical advisements, and so forth. That’s why we needed a president to stand strong and keep freedom first and then medical treatment second.
But as the days and weeks wore into months, and we were starting to see in our own country data that showed the uselessness of masks or the randomness of social distancing and the utter targeting of certain businesses versus other businesses.
For instance, you could keep open Target and Walmart and marijuana shops, but you have to close small mom and pop businesses and churches and not sing in churches. As that became the method of dealing with this virus, we certainly should have fought back a lot harder.
Lucas: OK. So I wanted ask you if you could talk about, I guess, not just during the pandemic, but I guess long term, what type of aspects do you think have constitutional freedoms, Bill of Rights have unrivaled in the long term?
Chumley: Well, the biggest thing—and there are many, and I go through this in my book, both as a warning of what happened and as a warning of what’s to come. But the biggest thing that I saw coming out of this coronavirus was the left and the globalist way of shifting the mindset of American citizens from one of the individualism into one of collectivism.
And for instance, we were told that it was the individual right in America to choose your own medical and health care methods for yourself and your family, that’s how America has been for years. And suddenly under this virus, we were told to put on a face mask, not so much because we believed in the power of the face mask for ourselves, but even if we didn’t, to wear a face mask because it made other people feel more secure, it made other people feel safe.
And when you start doing that, when you start taking the government’s advisements, based on what the government thinks is concerned for the collective, you’re losing your individual right to decide, you’re losing your individualism in America. And you’re moving more into a state of collectivism, which, I think, ultimately is where the globalists and leftists in charge of exploiting the fear of this virus wanted to lead America in the end.
Lucas: Right. Yeah. And mask-wearing became a form of virtue signaling at one point.
Lucas: For a time.
Chumley: It certainly did.
Lucas: You make some references—one of the chapters talks about from pandemic to climate to capitalism. Could you talk about that a little bit?
Chumley: Absolutely. And that’s right out of the Great Reset narrative. And I encourage people to go to weforum.org, which is the World Economic Forum’s own website, and read what the founder Klaus Schwab has written about the Great Reset, because part of the problem is the mainstream media was allowed to sell the idea that this Great Reset was a conspiracy theory. Well, it’s not, it’s in the World Economic Forum’s own words.
And what Klaus Schwab has envisioned for this pandemic is a total change, first of the capitalistic system, the capitalistic model. And what he says is that instead of having shareholder capitalism, such as we do in America, where businesses go into business primarily to make money for themselves and their shareholders, we move into this model called stakeholder capitalism, where businesses go into business, yeah, to make money, yeah, to make a profit, but more so to appease the interest of their stakeholders.
And stakeholders are described as anyone and everyone who has an interest in that business. So you’re talking Black Lives Matter, you’re talking your radical environmental groups, you’re talking the neighbors who live next door to the business. Everybody gets to have a say into this new stakeholder business model. And that is much more akin to communism than it is to free market capitalism.
Then, as you continue to read through these Great Reset documents, you find out that Klaus Schwab ultimately envisions roping in radical environmentalism and climate change regulatory controls along with the pandemic.
One way I noticed in the last few months that this has already started is there was this article in the journal Nature written by two scientists, once again, so-called experts, who said that if we don’t take immediate action to do the government’s narrative about climate change emissions, then people are going to die.
And their logic was that as more humans develop and populate the Earth, it’s going to force animals to leave those areas and to take up residence, take up home population in closer proximity to humans. And they’re going to bring their viruses with them into closer proximity to humans. Therefore, their logic is humans will catch more viruses and people will die, people will die and so forth.
So they’re already making the link and the jump from the virus to environmentalism.
Lucas: OK. Also, one of your chapters is a pretty bold title called “Dress Rehearsal and the March to the New Fascism.” Could you explain that a little bit?
Chumley: Well, again, this goes to the globalist vision for America. Look, the globalist vision, call it the One World Order, the New World Order, the Great Reset, or as Joe Biden himself calls it, the Build Back Better agenda—it’s all one and the same.
It’s something that the left, those partaking, those participating in this new vision for the world have done a great job as painting as conspiracy theory and it’s been in the works for decades now.
But it’s also something that America has been the big stumbling block to them bringing about this globalist vision for the world because in America, our exceptionalism is based on the idea that our rights come from God and government is only there to preserve and protect those rights.
So we are different from all other nations in the world that way. And that’s what keeps our government limited and, more importantly, subservient in its proper role to the people. So that’s been the stumbling block for these fascist-type, tyrannical forces in the world.
America has stood strong against this “One World Order” type of vision. And now because we have a feckless president in the White House who is basically being steamrolled by these far-left globalist forces, it looks as if America is indeed crumbling from within.
Lucas: Do you think there was a heavy socially liberal agenda here? Because we do remember, you mentioned this a little bit ago, closing churches, but they were closing churches—at least in California—and leaving strip clubs open. And that … rattled a lot of people. Was that just purely pushing a social agenda and using the pandemic as an excuse?
Chumley: Well, in a way, yes, it was pushing a social agenda because, of course, the tear down of the family unit plays right into the left’s hands to divide and conquer in America. If the family unit is a foundation of society and a society is a foundation for government, then it’s only by natural logical extension that the left would want to tear down the family unit. That’s where all the LGBTQ agenda comes from and so forth.
But when you speak of the churches closing in particular, I saw that as a huge clanging gong because in this country, if our rights come from God and government’s only there to protect those rights, we need to keep God alive and well on the public stage. God-given rights are a blessing, but they also carry a responsibility.
So it’s no coincidence that as America moves more and more secular, which, of course, polls have been showing that the last couple years that it opens the door for more and more government to step in and exert controls in areas which they have no rightful role to exert controls over.
So the closing of the churches in America, that was the one thing in this entire pandemic, in this entire government overreach to the pandemic, that was the one thing that surprised me because I did not know that churches would fold and bend to a government dictate so quickly and on such a widespread basis.
Lucas: I guess we could also talk about the role that Big Tech and the Big Media played in this.
Chumley: Oh, absolutely. Well, Big Tech booted anybody with a countering narrative from the government, including the guy who actually was one of the key developers of these vaccines, of these messenger RNA vaccines. They booted him because they thought that his viewpoint was radical.
But the role of the media was absolutely disgusting. And I include even the so-called conservative media in this. I’ll just name Fox News. Fox News was very disappointing to me because what the mainstream media did, and I’ll use Fox News as an example, they ran this running case count for weeks in the bottom right hand corner of the television screen that just showed on an ongoing second-by-second basis how many test positives there were, how many case counts there were, how many deaths there were. And this just hyped and overhyped the panic and the fear that the American people were experiencing.
And what I detested about the coverage is that it came absent any sort of context. Case counts by themselves, test positives by themselves are meaningless. It doesn’t matter if a million people in America test positive for the virus. The only thing that matters is what percentage of those million die from it versus recover, or what percentage of those million, if you want to right this, have to go to the hospital and be put on oxygen in order to survive versus just go home and live out their lives and recover on their own.
And the media did a terrible job of putting into context things that American citizens needed to be able to decide for themselves. First off, how fearful they should actually be of this virus and second off, how best they could protect themselves and their families from this virus. And again, that fed into the whole mindset shift from individualism to collectivism.
Lucas: All right. I think that’s everything. Really appreciate you joining us here. And folks, please check out the book “Lockdown” by Cheryl Chumley, she is a writer for The Washington Times. Her podcast is “Bold and Blunt.” So please check that out. Thanks for joining us.
Chumley: Thank you so much for having me.
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