“Can we uninstall 2020 and install it again? This version has a virus.”
“So far, 2020 is like looking both ways before you cross the street, then getting hit by an airplane.” Unknown authors
I think everyone can agree that 2020 was a year we never want to repeat. Here are five categories of “horrible” that made 2020 so awful. Hopefully they’ll improve in 2021.
COVID-19: In early January, President Donald Trump was warned about the seriousness of the coronavirus. He decided to downplay it, shifting responsibility to the governors. He never created a coordinated federal response because he apparently hoped the virus would magically disappear. As a result, the U.S., population 331 million, has suffered 329,491 coronavirus deaths as of Dec. 24. To put that in context, 291,557 Americans died in combat during World War II.
Following are some countries with their populations and total number of coronavirus deaths. These successes (and there are more) demonstrate perfectly what an abject failure Trump has been.
Japan, population 126.77 million, 3,050 deaths. Vietnam, population 97.25 million, 35 deaths. Australia, population 25.35 million, 908 deaths. New Zealand, population 4.6 million, 25 deaths.
These results show what competent leadership can accomplish. With a new president and the vaccines, 2021 should be healthier.
Economy: The economy was the only strength Trump had going for him, and even that was inherited, just as his fortune was. Trump came into office during President Barack Obama’s recovery, the longest-running economic expansion in our country’s history. The economy continued growing, and Trump claimed credit for someone else’s work.
When the economy collapsed in March and April of 2020, Trump then refused to accept responsibility. In two months, 22 million jobs were lost. Unemployment hit 14.7 percent.
Thousands of small businesses went bankrupt. Workers lost their jobs. People are losing their homes and being evicted from rentals. Trump and Republicans have blocked relief that could have helped. It will take years to recover from this devastation.
Climate change: There were a record 30 named storms in 2020. Of these, 12 made landfall in the continental U.S., also a record, causing billions of dollars in damage. 2020 was also a record deadly year for tornadoes.
The Atlantic and Gulf coasts saw record-setting high-tide flooding, due to storms and the rising seas. While those areas were flooding, the western U.S. was burning. California had five of the largest six fires in its history, and Colorado had three of its four largest. In 2020, nearly 14 million acres burned, eight times the average area burned in the mid-1980s. (CBS News, Dec. 2, 2020)
The increased frequency and destructiveness of these climate events are directly attributable to global warming, something Trump ignored. Without action, the emotional and economic toll will continue to rise.
Social unrest: 2020 was a year of protests and unrest centering around racial inequality. George Floyd’s murder on May 25 was the tipping point for many. Instead of addressing systemic racism, Trump chose to condemn the protestors. He blamed antifa and Black Lives Matter for the violence, while excusing white supremacist groups such as the Proud Boys.
In reality, white supremacists have killed hundreds, while antifa and BLM haven’t killed anyone. “Since 1994 … only one person’s death in the last 25 years was linked to ‘antifa’ or anti-fascists, and the person who died was the attacker. In comparison, over that same period, 329 murders were linked to the far-right.” (Business Insider, July 31, 2020)
Sadly, Trump continues to condone far-right violence while fanning the flames of bigotry.
Presidential Election: The 2016 presidential election was held on Nov. 8. On Nov. 9, the media called the election for Trump. Hillary Clinton, with 3 million more votes, conceded graciously. On Nov. 10, Obama invited Trump to the White House. The transition was smooth.
In 2020, Trump lost re-election by over 7 million votes. He continues to contest the results and resists working with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, putting America at risk.
Trump also stirs up his base by claiming Biden will do terrible things to America. Here’s a suggestion for Trump’s followers – write down what you fear.
Examples: He’ll confiscate our guns. He’ll abolish personal property. Write everything down. Then check the list occasionally. When these things don’t happen, maybe Americans can start working together again. If we can do that, America will recover and 2021 will be a new beginning.
As we work to stay safe, I wish each of you a happier and healthier 2021. Happy New Year!
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.