Conservative America just wanted COVID and all that came with it to be gone. Americans just wanted to get back to their lives—to their families, work and the baseball diamond. Americans wanted the government to stop forcibly mismanaging this respiratory infection because it was soon apparent that government was incompetent in this arena and also that government lied to us a lot.
Now Americans have broadly gotten what they wanted: a return to normal, to not wearing the obligatory face covering, to attending church socials and to traveling without a lot of COVID compliance worries. We’re going on vacations again and the kids are back in school. My hope is that, while returning to normal, we haven’t forgotten the big lessons of COVID and that watching our governments in action will have shaped our view of government for a lifetime.
So, what are the big lessons of the COVID era? What shouldn’t be forgotten? I propose these six paramount items; there are more:
- Authoritarians will, as often as possible, conjure fake emergencies to increase their power. The first lie was that COVID was unlike any disease ever dealt with in its capacity to kill. We know those early claims to have been very greatly exaggerated. The second lie was that government was capable of saving us from it. In some future America dominated by non-state schools, COVID will be the textbook example of manufactured crises.
- There are important reasons for the antiquated idea of limited government. Government, here in the United States, is not meant to solve all our problems or to keep us safe from all threats. If government assumes these broad prerogatives, we become helpless people, simply waiting for the sheltering arms of our overseers to protect us and their edicts to tell us what to do next. We enter a state of arbitrary rule. During COVID, governments utterly dispensed with this time-tested imperative.
- We saw it demonstrated that government interventions can actually make things worse. In individual states such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, COVID patients were actually sent to nursing homes where the epidemic could ravage the most vulnerable and, incidentally, exploding the number of COVID deaths to something that looked like a “pandemic.” Use of ventilators was rampant, a therapy that killed people. The “safe and effective” “vaccines” also injured and killed people while enriching the pharmaceutical giants. And how much damage was done to a nation of children whose education and socialization were put on hold for a couple of years? There are unforeseeable consequences to everything government does—let’s never forget this.
- A set of very unfortunate precedents was set that will come back to haunt us as our rulers discover more emergencies we need to be saved from. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an unelected bureau of the federal government, assumed leadership here, imposing standards on states from the top down. This isn’t how our federal system is meant to work. Maybe what was right for New York wasn’t right for Montana, even if we could make the generous concession that government ever cared what was right. Recommendations of the CDC became edicts concerning things like putting masks on, how far apart we stood from each other and how many people could congregate in one place at one time. When was government given the authority to impose such restrictions?
- Among many other lessons, we should have learned that government simply isn’t good at preventing disease. Studies of individuals who went mask-free vs. masked demonstrate that this outward mark of compliance had no perceptible effect on the spread of COVID. Even though people stayed home, stood six feet apart and didn’t drink from water fountains, the disease passed through the population unabated. By not restricting its efforts to the most vulnerable (the chronically ill and those over about 75), governments wasted resources and ruined lives.
- And maybe the lesson I hope we’ll most take to heart is this: Government will take charge of anything and everything if we don’t meet them with a forceful and emphatic “No!” We shouldn’t have complied with any of it, from the outset. This was our mistake and I hope we’re capable of learning from our mistakes. We could have taken care of ourselves, our families and our communities more effectively on our own and we’d be stronger people now for having done so. Just say No to big government no matter how much they persuade that they’re needed. And don’t comply with illegal mandates next time around.
Now that it’s all over, I think we can see that we suffered not from a pandemic of germs but a pandemic of authoritarianism. This one doesn’t become more benign over time though; it’s always ready to flare up, infect and inject misery into our lives. It’s up to us to remain vigilant, never forgetting the big lessons.