The Tragic Heroes of 2020

People are eager to comment on something when they themselves are not in the position to do anything about it. – Mencius

The last year and a half saw two major crisis – COVID19 and the breakdown of the rule of law. COVID itself was – conspiracy theories aside – almost certainly a naturally occurring infection that jumped from a wild species to humans. Its spread was aided by freedom protesters and conspiracy theorists, eager to fight government overreach and achieve “the hidden truth.” Freedom protesters fought hard to prevent social distancing and mask use, encouraged idealists to gather in large groups and to persecute those who took the pandemic seriously. Naturally, none of these fine ideals prevented them clogging up the hospitals when their dumb asses got sick. Conspiracy theorists aided the freedom protesters by proposing “plandemic,” “proving” that viruses spread via 5G networks and darkly warning that the vaccines will genetically re-engineer our bodies.

Giant multi-national corporations and their employees stood up to the protesters and conspiracy theorists. Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and AstraZenica brought vaccines to market in record time and in the face of considerable financial risk. Likewise, giant hospital corporations and their employees somehow resisted the temptation to let freedom protesters and conspiracy theorists die for their ideals. The resentment medical professionals must have felt – I can’t imagine. The overtime, the crowding, the personal risk and mental toll these corporate employees underwent for the sake of an entitled, idiotic and ungrateful public is one of the most truly heroic things I’ve witnessed.

Likewise, in the realm of law, police unions defeated practically all badly needed reform efforts after the Floyd killings mostly because the people protesting against them supported unrealistic and harmful “defund” measures and kept lighting major cities on fire. This took place in the backdrop of three likely coupe attempts by the legitimately elected former president and a sustained purge and politicization of the Department of Justice. Lest you think this was solely an American phenomenon, people’s champion, anti-elite types in Hungary, Brazil, China, Bangladesh, Thailand, Venezuela, Cuba, Turkey, Cambodia and Mexico likewise used the outbreak as an excuse to crack down on the press, curtail civil society and crush unpopular minorities.

Luckily, unelected bureaucrats showed themselves courageous, principled and formidable. Unelected judges, appointed by both parties, stood strong against people’s champion Donald Trump and his millions of sympathetic protesters, preventing the “stop the steal” movement from completing its coup. Civil servants in Portland somehow continued to operate and even support the freedom of assembly as racial justice protesters tried to kill them. Unelected officials in the Justice Department, more times than I can count, fell on their swords rather than partake in Trump’s politicization of the court system.

If it didn’t bode so ominously for the future, it would be inspiring just how many mega-corporations and unelected officials gallantly protected democracy, our lives and the rule of law from the murderous impulses, lawless behavior, idiocy and myopia of the protesters, elected officials, union members, voters and conspiracy theorists – you know, regular citizens. I for one can’t possibly imagine what could go wrong when democracy survives in spite of the citizens.

Happy nightmares, I guess.


  1. On the other hand, even the most paranoid among us may very well have some real enemies. To ignore the possibility would advantage those among the supposed adversaries that are more corporeal than imaginary. Interesting post, as usual.

    1. There are definitely real enemies.

    2. I just think it’s worrisome that the people with the least stake in democracy and civil society – would be aristocrats – are the ones protecting democracy from the people with the greatest stake – regular citizens.

      I don’t think it’s sustainable, at all.

  2. […] say the same things about many Western countries. As is becoming something of a theme post-2020, elites and bureaucrats seem to be outperforming elected officials, citizens’ groups and regula…. We’ve already discussed the generally laudable ways business elites and unelected […]

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