Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of clay Magazine or TPS.
It goes without saying that 2020 was eventful, especially in the area of politics. Since the unpredictable tide of 2020 is over, the only thing left to do is look back and see what the most important events were. After all, hindsight is 2020. This list only includes events that directly involved America and ranks them by the impact each case had. With this in mind, let’s explore the five most influential events of 2020!
Honorable Mention: The Killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter Movement
The Black Lives Matter movement experienced a resurgence in 2020, leading many to call for social justice and police reform following the death of George Floyd. A list detailing the most important events of 2020 would be incomplete without it, since it became a hot-button topic across America and garnered a large amount of attention since Floyd’s death on May 25. However, despite the significant outcry this event caused, it didn’t accomplish much tangible change in terms of laws relating to the justice system. The main piece of legislation pushed by the Black Lives Matter organization, the BREATHE Act, would have had created major implications but was never passed. Even though it can’t be ignored, the movement likely accomplished little in the long term with no legislative footprint to be seen or expected.
5. The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
A key piece of the Democratic party’s representation in the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had served since 1993, died on September 18, 2020. The resulting empty seat in the Supreme Court quickly became a battleground where the Republicans and Democrats fought about whether or not Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee for justice, should be confirmed in the face of the 2020 election. Even without the tensions, the massive ideological shift from Ginsburg to Barrett, from a loyal liberal to a steadfast conservative, should change the outlook of Supreme Court decisions for years to come.
4. The Election of Joe Biden
Although the recent confirmation of the electoral vote on January 6 brought new leadership to America, there are plenty of reasons the Democratic win shouldn’t be higher on the list. First, although 2020 seemed to culminate in this election, the results may not live up to the hype. The move from Donald Trump to Joe Biden does present a large ideological shift, but what this shift means in terms of policy is unknown. Outside of his first 100 days, there is no real way of telling what happens past or even during that time, since the Biden administration hasn’t given a timeline for any of their policies. Second, since this list is based on current impact, it’s difficult to place the election above the other events on this list. Although Joe Biden offers a lot of potential change, how much and how impactful that change will remain to be seen.
3. The Assassination of Qasem Soleimani
The Iranian general, who served in that role since 1998, was killed in a targeted drone strike on January 3 with the approval of President Trump. Soleimani, former leader of the Quds Force, the intelligence branch of the Iranian military, allegedly was planning to strike U.S. bases and embassies, which led to the American drone strike. Shortly after the funeral of Soleimani, who was largely regarded as the second hand man to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, Iran launched both a missile strike and an assault on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Both of these were key drivers to Trump’s decision to reimpose trade sanctions on Iran, thus leaving the Iran Nuclear Deal. As a response to the new sanctions, Iran started stockpiling low-grade uranium, this time in amounts that could create nuclear weapons, and the Islamic leadership refused to renegotiate any part of the Nuclear Deal. These increased tensions make the Middle East a potential battlefield once again, and the impacts, though already significant, could gain importance in years to come.
2. The Abraham Accords
Despite the hostility going on in some parts of the Middle East at the beginning of the year, the second half of the year brought an unprecedented peace deal. On August 13, the United Arab Emirates signed a deal, brokered by President Trump, to recognize Israel as a nation, which caused three nations, namely Morocco, Sudan, and Bahrain, to join the deal by December. The last three nations are especially significant because in 1967, these countries made a coalition amongst 13 Islamic nations, creating the Khartoum Resolution. This treaty allowed for no peace, treaties, or negotiations with Israel, meaning the Abraham Accord is a turning point in Middle Eastern politics. Now 5 of the 13 signatories of the Khartoum Resolution, including Egypt and Syria, have rejected the once divisive contract that caused much religious animosity and bloodshed in the region.
1. Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 Lockdown
On March 17, Santa Clara County, California, shut down much of the Bay Area and became the first to fully execute a stay-at-home order. In doing so, it created a precedent most of the United States followed, which magnified the impact the coronavirus had on the United States. Although COVID alone would have done a number on America, the lockdowns not only caused substantial economic damage but became arguably the most contentious point in American politics. At the same time COVID-19 lockdowns and business shutdowns caused a massive spike in the unemployment rate, they also played a strong role in Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. Additionally, relief packages and stimulus checks were passed and debated in Congress. Overall, COVID-19 and lockdowns not only became the most standout parts of 2020, but they helped a Biden presidency come to fruition. That is why California’s COVID lockdown is the most impactful event in 2020. Feel free to give your thoughts and rankings below!