If 2020 was a television drama, it would be the envy of all political shows made to date. We finally saw an end to Trump’s America, a new government in BC, and of course, the politicization of a global pandemic that changed lives.
The political winds swirled. They shifted enough to welcome Biden into the White House. Although Trump did not concede to Biden until the eleventh hour, this win marked a huge victory against Trump’s power which was tainted by a growing racial divide, worsening international relations with Canada, and an erratic presidency overall. In this election, we saw three states flip to Democrats, including a huge win for Democrats in Georgia, which was later unsuccessfully contested by Trump and the Republicans. All hell broke loose when Trump supporters stormed and invaded the Capitol to protest Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Members of Congress desperately took shelter in the complex, while one woman was shot dead during the riot. Shortly after, Trump was banned from all forms of social media including his favourite, Twitter, where he incited and encouraged the protests. With Biden now in office, the tables have turned, and Trump is at the centre of a second impeachment trial with the focus on the Capitol breach. There has been a major political pivot in the last year: Trump is no longer on the political offence, but instead on the defence. In contrast, within the first 100 days of presidency, Biden has signed numerous executive orders to provide better healthcare for Americans, reversed bigoted decisions by Trump who had restricted travel from certain countries, brought new policy focus, energy, and measures to get a hold on the COVID-19 pandemic, and has had an unparalleled focus on environmentalism.
The world came to a halt as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) prevailed and was declared by the World Health Organization as a pandemic. To date, the virus has claimed over two million lives across the world. To curtail the spread of the virus, governments imposed strict lockdowns and measures, such as travel bans, that impacted the lives and livelihoods of people like never before. Toilet paper and other household staples became treasured commodities in supermarkets as people scrambled to settle into a new normal. Researchers and scientists rushed to find cures and vaccines to curb the spread of the virus. After a full year, Canada approved the use of multiple vaccines that provide some immunity against COVID-19. However, the lackluster vaccine rollout has not matched even the plans laid out by the government, and Canadians are frustrated as other countries boast timelier inoculation efforts. This has resulted in trickling approval ratings for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Now, the race is on between countries to achieve herd immunity for their populations in order to recover from the social, economic, and most importantly, the detrimental health effects of the pandemic. Experts claim that we are still a couple years away from getting back to pre-pandemic norms and activities.
While there was a lot lost in the past year, there were some things gained as well. Some Canadians reported increased savings working from home, others took advantage of emergency benefits introduced by the government, and the BC politicians gained a majority government after calling a snap election. Many referred to the election as a mere referendum on the government’s performance on their response to the COVID-19 vaccine. With the BC government’s proactive response to the pandemic, winning the election was a walk in the park for John Horgan and the New Democratic Party. A new government is in place on the heels of the pandemic, but the question remains whether or not the NDP can steer us out of the woods and help make a full social and economic recovery. In an election with a historically low turnout, will the confidence in government taper off as the shiny COVID-19 recovery benefits become unavailable?
In the past year, healthcare has become the top priority for people, politicians, and governments alike. It was a year clouded with uncertainty and continues to be. When and how will the pandemic end? Will the world ever be the same? Unfortunately, only time will tell.