What Have We Learned in 2020?

Written by Philip Mauriello Jr., Managing Attorney of Arete Law A.P.C. and host of the California Underground Podcast

2020 will go down as a year for the history books. Not just for America but the entire world. COVID flipped our worlds upside down and caused more division in a country that was already incredibly polarized. Mix in a hotly contested Presidential election, and you have a year that will be examined for future generations.

But what did we learn in 2020? Many people who were not politically active all of sudden found themselves reading more political news, watching rallies, and brushing up on civics lessons. Everyone overnight somehow became a Constitutional scholar. Comments raged about what is and what isn’t constitutional.

Here’s a list of things I think we learned in 2020 and need to keep in mind going forward.

Government Is Not Here to Help You

The country lives in basically two schools of thought right now. One school of thought is that the government is all-knowing, all caring, and here to help. Well we know what President Reagan said about the scariest words in the English language. The other school believed that the government should allow people to gauge their risk and live their lives through “dangerous liberty.”

In deep-blue states such as here in California, the first school of thought won out. Massive lockdowns, mask up orders, business closures at the stroke of a pen. It all occurred because the government had this belief that if we just enacted more government control we could force nature to bend to our will.

As California continues to see ever-increasing cases of COVID and breaking records of some countries, the question that must be asked, is it working? Based on the data we have been seeing, it appears no amount of government orders can curb nature. Los Angeles was effectively shut down in March and is absolutely out of control while neighboring counties like Orange County did not see the spikes.

All while they picked and chose winners and losers. Strip clubs, weed shops, liquor stores, and Hollywood were all given exemptions as being “essential” while restaurants, bars, and churches were shuttered. Why? Well, no reason or data why, just because they think it helps.

In the more than nine months since the original “two weeks to flatten the curve” happened, California has not stepped up to help these small businesses. Sure they did some grants, and delayed tax deadlines, but in the end, they threw up their hands and let everybody fend for themselves.

Most people who thought the government was helpful maybe second-guessing themselves and asking is so much government necessary? The bloated and rotting bureaucracy of the California state government has shown that it isn’t necessary and that it has done nothing but hurt the citizens more.

Politicians Don’t Have the Spine to Weather Tough Times

COVID was one thing. We saw Governor Noodles double down on draconian lockdowns, while also being caught dining out at the French Laundry. The mayor of San Jose visited family for Thanksgiving after he told people not to. The mayor of San Francisco also dined at the French Laundry. Nancy Pelosi was caught getting a blowout at a salon when the salons were all shuttered (and then blamed the Republicans for it as a set up somehow).

The truth is, I don’t believe politicians now have the spine or the backbone to make the hard decisions in tough times. I imagine they believed they would get into positions of power and then enjoy a life of cushy government salaries and benefits, and either move onto higher positions or into lavish lobbying firms. Facing a pandemic was never something they expected to have to deal with. Now they are in a bind where they have to make tough calls and they are not handling the pressure well.

Likewise, the election of 2020 has left many issues on the table in terms of election integrity. The Founders were smart enough to place within our system several safeguards that would prevent overt fraud and corruption of our elections. The tools and levers are there. We have yet to see if anyone pulls them.

Elected state judges are dismissing cases without seeing evidence, state legislators are doing dog and pony shows to give you an illusion that something is being done, but in the end, none of them want to be responsible for any backlash. Most would just rather keep their heads down and get through this without being noticed and not being held accountable for doing or not doing anything.

This brings me to my next point.

Local Elections Are of Utmost Importance

I repeat myself, but if you want to make a drastic change in your life and how your community is handled, it is not who sits in the White House, but who is elected to your local offices.

In California we saw certain Counties just say no to Noodles’ lockdowns. Sheriffs have come out and said they will not enforce lockdown orders. Now we have not just one, but two Superior Court judges who ruled that the government cannot lockdown businesses without data or justification as to why.

What do all these people have in common? They are all locally elected officials. Most people wait four years, check off who they want for President and then forget the down-ballot candidates because it’s just too much work. However, those down-ballot positions are responsible for the rules and laws enacted in your local community. They have an immediate impact. One follower did not even realize you could vote for judges in court.

If you want people in place who will stand up to government overreach and protect and defend the Constitution, then you need to vote local. Especially here in California.

California Conservatism Is Long From Dead

While the CAGOP continues to play arts and crafts, conservatism in California is long from dead.

The nation was stunned when they saw the number of Proposition measures that were voted down in California. Thus prompting the question from pundits, are Californians more conservative than we think?

It is easy to just think California is a huge deep blue block, but in reality, it is much more diverse than that. I have previously written that the future of California conservatism will come in the form of libertarianism, and we have seen it play out in 2020.

Cash bail was preserved, taxes were voted down, economic liberty was saved, and racial discrimination was neglected. These are conservative values, and the voters came out. What can we take from this? There are values and issues that Californians support (or do not support) and politicians should take note.

Conservatism is not dead in California. It just needs to be packaged a different way.

Governor Noodles Is Not Invincible

Finally, 2020 was the year the Recall Newsom effort began and picked up substantial steam. After two previous attempts, this recall effort continues to gain support every day. What started as a grassroots campaign is now garnering national attention. With a new deadline in March and over 800,000 signatures collected, the Newsom administration is now legitimately worried that this one may work.

Previous supporters are now signing the petition and pushing for his removal. Of course there will be some who blindly follow, but Newsom has done more than enough to warrant his recall.

If California is successful in recalling Newsom and getting a Republican into the Governor’s mansion, the nation will be shocked. But more importantly it will bring life to a conservative movement in California that could finally help bring the Golden State back from the brink.

We learned a lot in 2020, and we should take plenty of these lessons with us. It will take time and more work, but in the end if we take these lessons to heart and build on them, there is a chance for a brighter future in California.


Photo by Kai Stachowiak