An Open Letter to the Tyrant of Virginia

4 min

Dear Governor Northam:

I hope this letter of objection finds you well in the middle of this lockdown you have declared here in Virginia.

As you must be aware, many of your fellow citizens are suffering from business closures and stay-at-home orders. Some people I know here in Front Royal – the baristas and cooks who work at my favorite coffee shop, the children of friends missing classes and school events, Catholics who are desperate to begin receiving the sacraments again – have undergone job losses, witnessed an increase in depression among loved ones, and may lose not only their livelihoods but their savings and homes as well.

Are you sure we’ve handled this event properly?

Let’s go back to 1969 for a moment. You were nine or 10 years old, and I was 18. I was in college, you were in elementary school, it was the year of Woodstock, and the Hong Kong Flu was in full swing, eventually killing over 100,000 Americans, most of them over the age of 65. Your school didn’t close, mine didn’t close, businesses didn’t close, the stock market stayed open, and we celebrated a moon landing. At my college, I watched that landing in an auditorium with 1,200 other people.

Were people less compassionate then, or dumber? Or did they do the right thing and let that flu bring about herd immunity?

Supposedly you were allowing “non-essential” businesses in the state to reopen on May 8, at least the ones that have not already gone out of business. Yet on Monday May 4, you kicked that opening date back 10 more days. You announced a three-phase reopening plan that you and the experts claim will take six weeks, but may also last “even longer.”

Can you explain what you mean by “non-essential” to my unemployed friend Claire at the coffee shop?

Explain, too, by what constitutional authority you acted. On May 3, the Department of Justice announced that it was taking the side of a Virginia church after a pastor held a Palm Sunday service with 16 congregants in a church that can seat 293 people. Several of your edicts violate the First Amendment. In a state whose motto is Sic Semper Tyrannis – “Thus Always to Tyrants” – and whose native sons include the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Father of the Constitution, we seem to have gone a bit off course, don’t you think?

Here’s a suggestion for you. Why don’t you take a drive to Bristol, Virginia, which sits on the border of Bristol, Tennessee, and explain to the guy who owns a burger joint why his parking lot remains empty while the parking lot of the café across the street in Tennessee is full of customers’ cars? I’d love to hear what that man has to say to you.

Another query: Why did you lock down the entire state? Take a quick look at this map and you will note that the great bulk of coronavirus cases are in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C. and in Richmond. Some counties in Southwest Virginia have yet to report a single case. Why did you treat places like Abington as if they were Arlington?

Governors like you told us we needed to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus cases so that our hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Hospitals in most states are far from facing such an ordeal. Meanwhile, elective surgeries were postponed, and many hospitals have sent employees home. How will you explain that situation when this “emergency” ends?

One last question: Let’s say you decide to allow the state to reopen on the latest date you’ve set. What happens when more coronavirus outbreaks occur? You know they will. Will you close us down again?

Even more interesting, what happens if the number of cases continues to dwindle? Would that circumstance indicate that the lockdown which has damaged so many lives was a necessary measure of protection? Not at all. Other factors – the onset of warmer weather, and people who caught the bug, remained asymptomatic, and are now immune – might account for a reduction in cases. We’ll never really know.

Despite the tone of this letter, allow me to add that I sympathize with all of you governors who have faced this crisis. You had to make tough choices with enormous ramifications. No one envies you having to make these decisions.

But enough is enough, Governor. It seems it’s time to consider reopening and putting Virginians back to work.


Jeff Minick

In case my fellow Virginians agree with me here, please call the Governor’s Office at 804-786-2211. If you disagree and believe Virginia should be kept locked down, please feel free to call as well.


[Image Credit: YouTube-CBS News, "Virginia Governor Ralph Northam says 'I'm not going anywhere'"]

Image Credit: [Image Credit: YouTube-CBS News, "Virginia Governor Ralph Northam says 'I'm not going anywhere'"]
Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.

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I couldn’t agree more. The tone of this letter is way more polite than I would have been. I think our governor is out of control. He has made decisions based on his political party not the benefit of the people.


well stated fellow Virginian. As beautiful as your words are I am afraid they may fall upon deaf ears with Lord Northram.


If the "essential" employees worked during this dreaded virus, then everyone one else could have worked. Esp. if they didn't have any compromising, underlying conditions. It should have been the individuals choice, after all we live in America. But no, this lockdown was about control. Can we control the public enough to make President Trump loose the election in Nov? That is why this will not end soon. It is all politics. If you keep electing Democrats, you will get this same overlord attitude. Look at all of the Democrat controlled states. The choice is your.


Why can't we be more civil in our discourse. Why vilify by calling him a "Tyrant." First, this seems to be a habit in on this site to make anyone with an opinion different than theirs as being evil. This was what we do in time of war to allow soldiers the moral freedom to kill the enemy. Second, it dilutes the meaning of the word so that a real tyrant doesn't seem so bad.


Well a tyrant would indicate someone who has taken control over another set of people and force them into some things that they don’t want to do in a tyrannical behavior so by definition he is a tyrant
Tyrants begin by taking arms from civilians. Northam's desired gun control is the confiscation of 50-75% of all privately owned weapons in Virginia, without even bothering to compensate the owners in any way. While he may not have achieved full "tyrant" status yet, it's clear he intends to become one if given the opportunity.
Jim, what descriptor for a person who issues orders which violate birth rights of citizens is more civil and appropriate than tyrant?
Wow Jim you are so angry because someone obviously spoke up for their civil liberties and yes the man is a tyrant by definition “a cruel and oppressive ruler” yes there is a large portion of our wonderful Commonwealth that is oppressed! This article is very well written and very well versed! Jeff I hope he opens his eyes and understands we demand our freedoms but if not I pray that we can show him in November.
Anything that violates our constitutional rights and forces them into job loss and bankruptcy vilifies the person doing it he over stepped. The constitutional bill of right is something you can cast aside when it becomes inconvenient to your agenda. If you are worried about a virus, stay home and do what you see fit and let others live their lives as they see fit. It should be their choice not governments and not any one elses.. This guys letter was very civil
OPEN your eyes to the facts that are leaking out. Shelter at home is not working, doctors are being told to write covid as cause of death. Flu is just as bad if not worse. The facts will set you free and open your eyes. God bless, pray as I do. It helps
I agree. I've yet to see any stimulus payments. I didnt get the nice $600/ week unemployment. Yet I'm not working. I work at great clips and IF I get to go back to work on the 15 I'll go from making 3 grand per month to maybe making 2 grand. My rent and car note have not been paid for 2 mos. My lender calls all day everyday. They dont care that va is so stupid. Matter a fact this entire covid deal is bullshit!!! The statistics are fraudulent. Nothing is being done with honest hard thinking. I don't know who stands to make millions but it's clear that it's at the cost of americans who truly are the essential core of this country aka the doers not the filthy takers. At some point how much is too much? The day the covid started Bill Gates was no longer a part of Microsoft? Why is that? He knows americans will connect the dots so he cashed out as did so many other in congress. I'm sorry but I think it's time for the 2nd cival war.


Hi. I’m wondering if you are self employed and that’s the reason you weren’t eligible for unemployment. Check out the VEC website. https://www.vec.virginia.gov/node/11790 There was an update on 4/7/20 about the stimulus program. I think it includes self employed folks now. No job search required and no waiting period. Not sure if you saw the update. I hope this helps. Praying for you.