2020: Year in Review

By Russ Flex

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The year 2020 was certainly unlike any other year in modern history. We had to deal with a deadly coronavirus pandemic, a controversial presidential election, racist groups coming out of the shadows, and even the tragic death of a sports legend. It is safe to say that no one will miss 2020 after it passes.

Let’s review some of these significant events and how they’ve already impacted our society.

Death of Kobe Bryant

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Before COVID-19 hit the United States, America experienced a personal tragedy in January 2020. One of its basketball legends, Kobe Bryant, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. His daughter, Gianna, and seven other people were killed as well. The exact cause of the helicopter crash remains unclear, but investigators suspect that heavy fog might have been the reason.

Kobe was only 41 years old at the time of his death. He had built a 20-year career as an NBA basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers within his short life. His career led him to win 5 NBA championships and to become a member of the NBA All-Star team approximately 18 times.

After Kobe’s death was announced, tributes poured in from all over the country. Everyone from Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal to former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama paid their respects. President Donald Trump even weighed in and gave his remarks too.

COVID-19

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In February 2020, the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States. Before that, it was first reported in China but then quickly spread to other countries because of all the international air travel that takes place each day. COVID-19 is a deadly infectious respiratory disease. It requires people to wear masks and social distance to prevent themselves from inhaling tiny droplets that cause infection.

In March and April, the U.S. went through a national shutdown to control the spread of COVID-19. Businesses were forced to close their doors to customers, resulting in massive numbers of layoffs and furloughs. About 1 in 4 small businesses were not able to recover from the shutdown.

There is a lot of blame thrown around regarding the failure to control COVID-19. American Democrats blame President Trump and his Republican enablers for downplaying the severity of the coronavirus from the beginning. President Trump initially claimed that it was no deadlier than the flu and would go away in the spring when it gets warm outside, that turned out not to be true.

By the end of the year, the pandemic had taken the lives of 1.5 million people worldwide. In the U.S., over 270,000 deaths have been reported so far. That number is likely to grow to 300,000 by New Year’s Day. Hopefully, with a new U.S. president taking office on January 20th, 2021, a concrete plan will be established to better manage the virus.

Racism Comes Out of the Closet

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Racism has always been a problem in America. But it seemed like racial tensions have dramatically escalated over the last four years. Some people blame this on the harsh rhetoric that comes from President Trump and his refusal to condemn white supremacist and far-right hate groups. It is almost as if he’s giving license for racists to come out and spew hatred on the streets of America.

Police violence against unarmed African Americans did not stop either. There were several high-profile incidents involving white police officers killing unarmed black men. The most notable was the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis, where Officer Derek Chauvin put a knee-to-neck chokehold on Mr. Floyd for 8 minutes. The whole world could hear Floyd say, “I can’t breathe.” That was the last straw for civil rights leaders and the American people who condemn such violence.

The Rise of BLM

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Black Lives Matter is an organization and social movement that protests incidents where there is police brutality against black people. Although BLM has been around since 2013, the organization didn’t start gaining a favorable public opinion until 2020. The change was primarily due to the millions of people who protested George Floyd’s murder. BLM was responsible for stimulating large movements countrywide to protest his murder and the widespread police violence against black people.

As a result, progressive Democrats and BLM want to defund the police and allocate more taxpayer dollars to social services, alternative emergency responses, and black communities. Unfortunately, the Republicans take the “defund the police” message out of context and claim that Democrats want to get rid of the police. Prominent Democratic leaders are now suggesting that a different phrase should be used because of this misunderstanding.

The U.S. Presidential Election

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Between COVID-19 and President Trump, it should be no surprise that the U.S. presidential election would be controversial too. Due to all the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions in states across the country, record numbers of people mailed in their ballots to cast their votes. Over 150,000 million people voted in the election, a record number of votes for any U.S. presidential election in history.

The election results showed that former Vice President Joe Biden was the winner, with 80 million popular votes and 306 electoral votes. Rather than concede the election, President Trump began spreading lies about voter fraud in an attempt to invalidate the election. He filed multiple lawsuits in all the swing states where he lost and even went so far as to invite state legislators to the White House and convince them to overturn the results.

All of President Trump’s attempts at overturning the results have failed. The states certified their election results, making Joe Biden the official winner. Now President Trump is talking about running for president in 2024. God help us.

Last Words
We’ll all be happy to leave 2020 behind. It was a dreadful year filled with sad stories of death, economic hardship, and continuous suffering. Many of these tragic events were unavoidable, but they could have been managed a lot better.

All the misinformation broadcast on certain television and social media networks continue to fill people’s heads with falsehoods and alternative facts. That is why we see so many people unwilling to wear masks or social distance during a pandemic. It is why more than 40% of the country cannot say the words “black lives matter.”

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that misinformation is a dangerous thing. People end up making the wrong decisions that cost themselves or other people their lives because they buy into the misinformation. If you want to avoid misinformation, then make your own best judgment based on what you experience in your own life.

It looks like 2021 will be a much brighter year. Not only will a COVID-19 vaccine be distributed to millions of people, but it will be the end of the Trump presidency. As for racism in America, it won’t go away anytime soon. Even though President Trump will no longer be in office, the racists will remain indefinitely out of the closet.

The U.S. is still a deeply divided country at both a political level and a social level. Unless Americans have a national intervention to address all the controversial issues that divide people, nothing will get better. The division will only get worse, and it will cost more people their lives.

Let’s try to learn from the tragic events of 2020 so that we don’t repeat them. Then perhaps we can do things right when faced with similar challenges again in the future.