Rep.-elect Jerry Carl says he's a "people person."

That's why Carl, a Republican from Alabama, loved "serving the people" in his old job as a county commissioner. It's also why he is so worried about the mental and spiritual health effects of the coronavirus lockdowns. Carl says he wants the U.S. response to the crisis to focus on finding ways to get people at least partially back in their routines as some begin to say that a vaccine shouldn't be the end of social distancing and mask precautions. 

"We've got to get people back to work. We've got to get kids back to school. We've got to get back in our churches. And, you know, we've got to get some normalcy back in our life right now," Carl said in an interview with Fox News earlier this month. 

"It's upside down," Carl lamented. "You look at D.C. here, and it's a virtual ghost town. Nine o'clock last night I think I saw three cars on the way back from the restaurant."

Rep.-elect Jerry Carl, R-Ala., told Fox News that the real problem during the coronavirus pandemic right now is "the social aspect" and that people "are trapped inside of a world they're not used to." (Jerry Carl)

Rep.-elect Jerry Carl, R-Ala., told Fox News that the real problem during the coronavirus pandemic right now is "the social aspect" and that people "are trapped inside of a world they’re not used to." (Jerry Carl)

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The convivial Carl spent much of his life as a dealmaking entrepreneur in the health care industry before getting involved in politics. He said governments are taking the wrong approach to the pandemic. 

"We need to focus on the fix and not so much the problem. We know what the problem is, and money's not going to fix it," Carl said. "A businessman is going to figure out what the problem is and then try to fix the problem, and that's more my mentality."

Carl added: "The problem right now is the social aspect of it. I mean, mentally, look at people, they're trapped inside of a world they're not used to. They're 65 years old and they're used to their grandkids coming and crawling all around. Now all of a sudden, their life is just out the window. And I think we're doing more damage than good, I really do."

"And that doesn't mean we just foolishly go out there and spread a germ. We don't do that," Carl said. "But I think we've really gone overboard in some areas."

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"Instead of locking people down, start giving them reasons to get out, teaching them precautions," Carl also said before adding that it's impossible "to encapsulate ourselves in this germ-free world."

One of the specific reasons the incoming congressman said it is critical that the U.S. not engage in wholesale lockdowns is that they disproportionately hurt businesses in urban areas. In pizza places and sandwich shops in the suburbs, you can drive there, park your car and "you can run in and out," Carl said. 

"When you talk about a restaurant… in downtown Mobile, I mean they're depending on foot traffic that's moving around," Carl said. "We don't have foot traffic, we don't sell sandwiches."

“The people I’m used to checking in with and checking on their grandchildren and I know their lives — I mean, that’s my family.”

— Rep.-elect Jerry Carl, R-Ala., on not being able to see people at church

But bigger than the economy, he says, is people's mental and spiritual health. Carl said that his experience with his church is particularly distressing to him. 

"We're social creatures … the biggest thing I miss right now is my church, my family at church," Carl said. "And we do have church and we do go to church, but we're all split up. We're all splintered up. You know, we have two services instead of one."

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Carl added: "The people I'm used to checking in with and checking on their grandchildren and I know their lives — I mean, that's my family. And now you're just so splintered up inside the church. You can't have that social atmosphere."

The pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people and significantly stressed hospital systems in multiple places around the country. It's also unclear what if any long-term effects may come from the virus that medical experts have said attacks more than just the respiratory system. But the vast majority of people, especially those who are healthy and young, do not get seriously sick and quickly recover from the virus.

That, Carl says, is a top reason why Americans shouldn't continue to shut down their lives. 

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"All I'm saying is there are a lot of questions that only history will be able to tell us what the answers are. But we need to start looking for those answers to get back to normal life. Quit looking for excuses not to," Carl said. 

Carl lives in a deep red district and won his election by about 30 points. He represents an area that is heavy on agriculture — specifically cotton and peanuts — and also has a significant shipbuilding industry. Because of that, Carl said that the committees he is most interested in are the House Armed Services Committee and the Agriculture Committee. 

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On his legislative priorities, Carl said that he represents a "red meat district," so protecting gun rights and pushing pro-life legislation will be at the top of his agenda. He also said his constituents want lower taxes and a smaller government. But Carl also said he's excited to work with both Republicans and Democrats to craft legislation. 

“I found out they’re not the bogeyman. They’re actually normal people just like myself. A little different views on some things, but it’s nothing we coudn’t work through.”

— Rep.-elect Jerry Carl, R-Ala., on House freshman Democrats

"I'm a problem solver… I'm not one to, you know, try to get out front of the cameras and beat a drum and get attention. I've always been a backroom guy," Carl said. "I'm very open-minded. I'm not one of those egotistical people that I feel like I have all the answers. That's why I'm a great listener."

Carl said when he gets in front of the cameras to talk, it'll be because he's found an answer to a problem and he's "trying to recruit people to get on board and understand what you're thinking about and what you're doing." Carl ran in his primary as a pro-Trump Republican but said that during the congressional freshman orientation he spoke with several Democrats and "had some incredible conversations."

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"I found out they're not the bogeyman," Carl said. "They're actually normal people just like myself. A little different views on some things, but it's nothing we couldn't work through."

On why he left business to get into politics — a decision that eventually brought him to Congress, replacing Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., who chose not to run for reelection and instead ran for U.S. Senate — Carl credits his son, a U.S. Marine. 

"I watched my son being deployed to Afghanistan and sitting around kind of figuring what I've ever done to equal what this 20-year-old kid was about to do, and came up empty," Carl said. "So I got involved in local politics. Complete unknown, knocked on 15,000 doors by myself and got elected as county commissions there in Mobile County District three."

Source Link:
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/alabama-rep-elect-jerry-carl-coronavirus-businesses-churches

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