This week America celebrates an anniversary, one which will be remembered as a pivotal day in our nation’s history. About a year ago, the first government-mandated social distancing regulations were imposed in Seattle and San Francisco — just days before the World Health Organization recognized COVID-19 as a pandemic.
I’m sure we all recall the slogans we first heard around this time last year: "two weeks to flatten the curve" and "slow the spread." Americans were promised that if they masked up, practiced social distancing, and limited their travel for just a few weeks, we would be able to move on with our lives, reopen our businesses and ensure that the medical system was not overwhelmed.
Sadly, power-hungry politicians eager to establish government control over our lives refused to surrender their authority — even as it became clear that our hospitals were not being swamped.
As COVID-19 continued to spread around the world, the draconian, unscientific lockdowns extended to our places of work, houses of worship, and even our children’s schools. Restrictions in states like New York even went so far as to ban private family gatherings.
It’s no surprise that leftist politicians and some Republican officials scared of negative media coverage responded to COVID-19 with these egregious mandates. What’s astonishing, however, is the fact that millions of Americans either tolerated or encouraged the stripping away of their freedoms for a false sense of security.
While groups like FreedomWorks and countless patriots pushed back against these restrictions from the beginning, we were unfortunately in the minority. Most Americans have shown warmth towards mayors, governors, and school boards who have subjected their constituents to these failed lockdowns.
Those of us who fought against these restrictions and dared to question the government’s authority to forcibly lock millions in their homes, were shouted down across social media websites and dubbed "anti-science."
Now, we’re seeing the results of these disastrous leftist policies. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses have been forced to close, trampled by megacorporations like Amazon which have continued to operate.
Houses of worship have been shuttered, with politicians unconstitutionally ordering millions of religious Americans into their homes, forbidding them from exercising their right to peacefully assemble and worship as they see fit.
Arguably worst of all, these lockdowns have proven that teachers unions across the nation will reliably choose their own wealth and power over the welfare of our children.
The truth is that while mask mandates and lockdowns will eventually come to an end, Americans’ perspectives on government seem to have changed forever. Our children and grandchildren will be forced to foot the bill for this reckless public spending, a fact that too many are willing to ignore because it’s politically inconvenient.
Those who treasure individual liberty and fiscal responsibility should continue to raise their voices against politicians who care more about their careers than they care about future generations.
But despite the suffering these shutdowns have wrought, the pro-lockdown left transforming the role of government in our lives has taught conservatives a valuable lesson. Returning to the pre-COVID-19 "normal" shouldn’t be our goal. Instead, conservatives must use these events to promote solutions that expand liberty and limit government.
For decades, millions of parents correctly observed that public schools had become leftist indoctrination centers where our children are programmed to hate America. Now, those same parents are the ones clamoring the loudest for schools to be reopened. For years, we fought to undo the ruinous effects of Obamacare on our health care system and the explosion of the federal deficit; yet there is massive public support for COVID-19 relief spending that would spend more taxpayer dollars in one year than Obamacare did in ten.
If conservatives embrace endless spending and support the continuation of liberal indoctrination in our schools, we will lose our country to the radical left.
Our message going forward should be simple: We will never send our children back over to schools that teach students to hate our culture. We will never again allow governments to shut down our places of worship, close our businesses, or scrap our election laws.
If there’s one lesson Americans should learn from this pandemic, it’s that government action has failed to combat this complex crisis. If anything, it’s making it worse.
It’s clear that the left is intent on creating a post-COVID-19 "new normal," where big government reigns and individual liberty is crushed.
Instead of acquiescing to the far left, conservatives must introduce a bold vision of our own–one which ensures that the government stays out of our pocketbooks, schools, businesses, and places of worship.
Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks.