According to any remotely recognizable theory of limited government—whether you call it libertarianism, constitutionalism, conservatism, classical liberalism, or even Americanism—the government has not just the authority but the obligation to prevent threats to public welfare. From colonial times to well after the ratification of the Constitution, governments took extreme measures—quarantines, inoculation programs, etc.—to prevent the spread of yellow fever and other epidemics. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington ordered the mandatory inoculation of his troops to prevent the spread of smallpox.

In other words, epidemics, like wars, are the great exceptions to limited government. This used to be Conservatism 101: The government shouldn’t boss us around unless there is a truly compelling reason, like an invading army or, in this case, an invading virus.

What makes all of this even dumber is that all the federal government has done is recommend mask-wearing. Most of the places that require masks are private businesses. Admittedly, some are adhering to local public health guidelines, but so what? Why aren’t these rebels going shirtless and shoeless into restaurants to stick it to the man and his Maoist “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” signs?