The foundation of American politics slowly cracked last year. Tensions over Donald Trump’s presidency and partisan division caused rifts in a system built on minimizing rifts. Conclusively, the combination of social turmoil and political insecurity tested the power of politics and its ability to counteract societal problems. Whether we failed or thrived as a country — though the answer seems simple — will take years to truly answer. For now, all we can do is look at 2020 as a whole and how it affected us as a nation.
Coronavirus: The start of a fast demise.
The lasting effects of the Coronavirus pandemic were catalyzed not by a lack of capable infrastructure to defeat the virus but by a lack of leadership capable of understanding how to use the infrastructure. While Donald Trump did play a large role in the negative affects of the Coronavirus, leadership on every level gave the virus the power it needed to debilitate the country.
Financially, Coronavirus taught us the powerful lesson of planning and patience. As of January 31st, US News ranked the United States as the 15th most economically stable country. While a strong position to be in, it is not number one. Ironically, Americans tend to lean on the more entitled side, naturally assuming that the U.S. is the most stable country in the world. Unfortunately, the pandemic preyed on those sentiments and left us scrambling to figure out the best way to protect the health of our economy while also meeting the exceedingly high standards and needs of the average American.
The health of the economy could not keep up with Americas spending problem — an unfortunate downfall to capitalism. The United States has longstanding and far reaching economic and health disparities. While as a society we continue to compete over resources, 2020 demonstrated the destruction of division. The pandemic required Americans to step outside of themselves in support of the health of our nation — collectively we failed.
The reality is, financial and health disparities led one group of people to think they were better off than the other. In theory they were but in action the pandemic showed us our dependency on one another. It was heartbreaking to watch the small amounts of affluent people that were willing to help our vulnerable communities. COVID played off of our divide as a nation, quickly showing how loosely wound the fabric of our nation is.
Other countries quickly slowed the spread of the virus through strong leadership and collective action. Prime Minster Justin Trudeau showed a sufficient commitment to the promises he made to Canadians and his duty as a leader to protect their lives and livelihoods during uncertain times.
Other leaders looked down upon Trudeau’s decision to invest back in students and increase government spending aimed at helping Canadians through the pandemic because of the deficit the Country faced. But perhaps a firm commitment to the people is exactly what we needed from a leader. Donald Trump and his GOP allies showed a blatant frustration for Democrats call for increased stimulus spending in an effort to help struggling families. Instead, Republican priorities have been on small businesses, farms and corporations.
Most recently House Democrats passed the CASH Act which promised $2000 payments to struggling Americans. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans quickly shot down the legislation deeming it unnecessary to provide real change to our economy.
The decisions from leaders on both sides of the aisle to prolong aid over partisan divide and their inability to come together for the common good shook the country to its core. It left many families yearning for rapid decision making, it left children uncertain about the future of their education and it left parents wondering how to make ends meet. As a result of the partisan divide over what to do about the growing effects of the pandemic, Americans did not have a call to action on how to procced.
We all were left arguing over seemingly miniscule yet profoundly important things like wearing a mask in public or abstaining from parties to protect our more vulnerable populations and when the most powerful leaders of our nation were called too few answered.
If nothing else, the pandemic solidified harmful party division that subsequently left Americans on both side adamant about protecting their rights and antagonizing others for their perceived wrongs.
Red or Blue: Divisive Politics Prevail.
Prior to this year political party allegiance was not a character trait. People did not instantly box each other in because of something as small as who they decided to vote on.
Then Donald Trump happened and because of the way he chose to lead, party afflation became a strong determinant of who you were as a person. Trump supporters automatically assume that Democrats are conspiring to infringe upon their rights. On the contrary, Biden supporters strongly oppose the Republican Party, believing that it has now become the party of white Americans stuck on oppressive ideologies from the past.
Regardless of which side you land on, the tension between people from different parties is evident. In the past, party systems were admired for the necessary competition they created and for the diverse perspectives they brought to democracies. At one point in American history the divide over Republican or Democrat challenged politicians to be effective and efficient, as that was the only way they would be elected.
Unfortunately, 2020 taught us that the best government systems can fail with the wrong leader. As a society, we’ve become a divided nation. The saddest part is, we are divided over human rights violations like homophobic policies, religious freedom and police brutality. Lives and livelihoods are at risk and this year we have demonstrated that we cannot come together to promote collective good.
But all hope is not lost.
Thankfully, Joe Biden is the President-Elect and his moderate tendencies may prove medicinal to the current political climate. He has Republican and Democrat friends a like that may be willing to work with him to get something done for the American people during our most trying season in a long time.
It will take leadership from both parties in the House and the Senate to negotiate for fair policies that benefit all Americans. 2020 let us know that politics is a divided game that requires compromise. When compromise is lost lives are lost, wages are lost, education is lost, and health care is lost — this year demonstrated that.
2021: After all this time, not much has changed.
As 2020 concludes, so is Donald Trump’s presidency. Though negative in many ways, I am grateful for his time in office.
The hate president Trump brough out of his supporters demonstrated how little America has progressed over time. Objectively, Trump’s support was largely built on hate. Hate over sexuality, religion, and race established a culture of chaos.
So many riots, deaths, hate and division could be stopped if we finally addressed the root of the problem. Donald Trump played a key role in destroying 2020 but the long history of band aid approaches made his term possible.
In 2021 we have to eradicate the fundamental flaws of politics and policies in America. Through compromise and consistent empathy, we can have a better new year rooted in love and change. But this can only work if the old way of doing things are left in 2020.
Policy change and a common goal of unity and equal opportunity can heal our nation.