- - Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The COVID crisis is over, but the malady lingers on.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has finally ended the state’s COVID-19 “emergency,” just before the anniversary of his “all we need is two weeks to flatten the curve” promise.

This week marks three years since he issued the first stay-at-home order and began decreeing who were essential and nonessential workers. Lives were ruined, and hundreds of businesses perished.

Those moves were followed by many others and countless expansions of power, not the least of which included forcing school students to wear masks, sit in plastic bubbles and most often do “remote learning.”

It was a disaster. Children had to endure mandates longer than adults did. The long-term damage to our children is staggering. Learning levels and test scores dropped, particularly among minority and underprivileged children. And then there are huge increases in depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even suicide rates.

Every day, we are getting more clarity about the origin of the virus, what worked and what didn’t, and how so much was about politics, not science. When it comes to our children, parents are singing a different tune. They’ve had enough. They’re tired of feeling their voices aren’t being heard when it comes to education. They have seen raw teachers union power and bureaucrats acting as if parents have no right to determine what’s best for their own children.

This may be one of the best things to come out of the long, ugly COVID-19 ordeal.

The power grabs and contradictions abound even now, and the beat goes on. We’re told this has all helped us to be prepared for the next pandemic. The hits just keep coming.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration says the federal emergency will also go away … but not until May 11. It appears no one wants to give power back to the people, even as it was before the pandemic.

Mr. Newsom promised to end the emergency in the days ahead of last November’s election, when California voters were finding state surplus (which has now been revised to a large deficit) “rebate” checks arriving remarkably close in time to the receipt of their mail-in ballots. He promised the end of the situation by Feb. 28 (if situations weren’t worse), announcing it in October to help influence the midterm election.

In the wake of the explosion of governmental power in the pandemic, hundreds of Golden State businesses are gone. The people have too often succumbed to whatever Big Government plan was in force, making them feel fearful and doing everything in “an abundance of caution.”

Even so, parents have been the stars, motivated to do things differently — inspired to action thanks to pandemic overreach. Other states have seen changes. Fighting for their children’s education and parental involvement caused a seismic shift in the Virginia governor’s race. The “Let Them Breathe/Let Them Choose” movement in San Diego County created huge changes on behalf of children’s rights to flourish without stifling restrictions based on political science, not real science.

More Americans are no doubt feeling the same way now, wary of Big Brother and wondering if they are being heard. But what parents are doing is a sign of something bigger. Others affected by COVID-19’s tentacles are seeing things differently.

After COVID-19 “pandemia,” there’s a growing sense that the old ways of doing things aren’t working. The voices of everyday Americans cannot be trampled by politicians, unelected bureaucrats and union bosses. In recent decades, California teachers unions have spent huge sums on politics, not children and classrooms. Other interest groups, including Big Pharma, have also weighed in on funding politicians.

It is thus no surprise that policy has been bent to favor many of these interest groups while everyday Americans have suffered.

This is the time to consider a fresh new way of thinking and empowering all Americans. It’s time to fix our system so it can search for solutions without interest groups putting their thumb on the scale.

• John Cox is a businessman, 2018 Republican nominee for governor of California and chairman of the Rescue California Education Foundation.

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