A Great Awakening: What 2020 Has Wrought

2020, amirite? <cue cymbals>

Yeah, it’s been a wild and pretty awful year, in many, many ways. I would not have predicted most of its most salient features, and have no interest in offering any predictive hostages to the looming vortex of 2021.

Scott Shepard

Scott Shepard

Instead, let’s take stock of the past year with an eye toward learning its lessons and gearing up for what might be coming.

After all, we learned quite a lot this year, or had a lot of suspicions confirmed. And, as the Last Children of the Cold War™ will remember with me, “knowing is half the battle.”

We have learned a key tell of the left: It’s actually up to whatever it accuses us of. Consider all the instances in the past few years:

  • Cambridge Analytica was accused of rigging social media to favor Donald Trump. It didn’t, but in 2020 the tech giants semi-openly (and in 2016 more discreetly) rigged searches, hid information, censored, and otherwise pressed their thumbs down as hard as they could in Biden’s favor.
  • Donald Trump was accused of “colluding” with Russia and the Ukraine to undermine American democracy. He didn’t, but it sure looks like the Biden family’s corrupt dealings with China and the Ukraine run deep.
  • The right is constantly accused of “systemic” racism, sexism, and generalized hate, and we are broadly innocent of those things. In actuality, those attitudes are embraced by the left, where anti-white, anti-male, anti-Christian, anti-traditional, anti-American, &c. hate is so rife that the left has developed a whole monstrous set of theories to not only justify but glorify all its hating. Of course, this justification also infantilizes the groups it supposedly ennobles, but evil doctrine will do that to you.

We have also learned that there are no objective news organizations left in this country. Consider the former news outlets’ treatment of the three parallels mentioned above. They don’t follow any objective standards anymore; they just shill for their team. We heard for years about imaginary foreign election interference, but these outlets are positively radiant about active and open tech-lord interference. (What happened to suspicions about corporate power, eh?) The active refusal to cover Biden’s potential and provable corruption… well, the list is nearly endless.

And, of course, the “news” media’s deflections and duplicity are aided and reinforced by a civil service that is corrupt and partisan to its core. The swamp is real, and to a significant degree is running this country. Your interests are not its interests, and it cares only about its interests.

Then there’s the politicization of everything, and the tinpot, blackface dictators who fill so many governors’ mansions. Both of these phenomena were revealed by the rolling, incoherent, COVID-justified lockdowns on economic and personal liberty, and by the politicians’ flouting of their own rules even as they hectored us to follow them – sometimes literally at the same time, as with the elected fundaments who taped demands that their electors stay the hell at home from their vacation condos.

These are the things for which tar, feathers, and horsewhips were made.

They are certainly the things for which recall mechanisms were made. Governor Newsom is no doubt surprised that the people of California aren’t amused that he has broken the state’s economy, promised not to allow reopening unless incoherent “social justice” goals have been met, and meanwhile ignored – along with all his important friends, and other elected officials throughout that benighted state – all of his own crippling edicts. His surprise would be the greater were he to find himself out on his ear, recalled from a position that both he and his Aunt Nancy thought his and theirs by right. And, like the execution of Admiral Byng for his failures of command in the Battle of Minorca, his recall would, one suspects, have a delightfully instructive effect on governors, mayors and other petty tyrants nationwide.

Beyond that, we need to sue – early and often. It is clearly the plan of the left to banish and punish any disagreement with its parodic positions. A family in my neighborhood put out a hand-painted sign in the days after the election asserting that “Love Won! Biden/Harris 2020.” That is to say, their side is the side of love, while people who disagree with them about policy matters preach hate. This is pretty dire stuff – not, as the old bromide has it, beanbag. Worry ratchets higher when we remember how many leftists, including leftists who certainly know better, have begun to claim that “hate speech is not free speech,” and so can be banned at will. That leaves us only a step or two from Chinese social-credit monitoring systems, and an essentially unfree society. The courts can retard the movement in that direction, and we should use them rigorously.

Remember, both attorneys’ fees and punitive damages are available in actions vindicating civil rights. And nearly the whole agenda of the “transformative” left would violate the civil rights of huge swathes of American society. It’s time for some enterprising conservative lawyers to build themselves a cottage industry. It should prove fairly lucrative until the lesson is relearned that people cannot exempt themselves from legal or constitutional constraints merely by asserting their own moral supremacy.

2020 brought the gift of clarity. A vast number of our political adversaries – including most of the former news industry, the entertainment industry, the education industry, the bureaucracy and others – mean to strip those who disagree with them of careers, livelihoods, voices and the rest of it. They’re serious.  At very least, correctly interpret anything those groups assert: as likely the inverse of truth. But that’s not enough.

2021 is the time for our all-out resistance to begin. Let’s try to avoid the weird burning, looting, and violence that inexplicably accompanied (surely the Russians were responsible) 2020’s “mostly peaceful” protests. But otherwise, we have to get out there and fight. Genuinely peaceful – but determined – protests, floods of lawsuits, increasing and constant pressure on woke corporations, and meddling corporate leaders: the whole megillah (as the president-elect would certainly put it).

It won’t be a lot of fun. But this is crunch time.

Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Deputy Director of its Free Enterprise Project. This was first published at Townhall Finance.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.