By: Robert Scott
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So much happened in 2020 that it is difficult to pick out the biggest stories, those that will have the most influence acrossour country going forward. Will the Congress override the President’s veto of the military appropriations bill which, among other things, authorizes renaming Fort Gordon from one honoring a Confederate General to, perhaps, Fort Eisenhower? Will President Trump end up signing or even providing a chance for Congress to override a veto on the COVID-19 Relief Bill,which is also the major appropriations bill for the Federal Government for the year we are in now: FY 2021? Or will he just hold onto it while the calendar runs out on the current Congress, and force a government shutdown? This would meanending many COVID-19 relief measures, including cutting off funding to distribute the COVID vaccine.
In my eyes the top two stories are obvious. First is the COVID-19 pandemic itself, and how our government so mismanaged it that we, the United States, have more infections and more deaths than any other country in the world: over 330,000 dead Americans as I write this. Had the Trump administration taken actions like those of Korea, New Zealand, Canada or France, there would be tens if not hundreds ofthousands more Americans who would have survived. Second is a related story: the success of “Operation Warp Speed” in developing and beginning to field an effective vaccine against this horrible disease. The degree of responsibility for this success that goes to the Trump administration is a matter of debate – the initial Pfizer vaccine was developed not in the U.S. but in the U.K. But not a matter of debate is its speed, safety, and (so far) effectiveness. The success or failure of the COVID-19 vaccine is likely to become the top story of 2021, and we all hope that it is success.
It’s the next story, the third most meaningful story of 2020, that has lots of competition in its import to America. To me, it is this one: Black Lives Matter. BLM is no longer a slogan, and it should no longer conjure images of rioters destroying property and killing policemen. Instead, it should bring up images of the national outrage following the on-camera killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as well as the unnecessary killings of black men and women by police and other armed Americans in the name of “justice.” Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breanna Taylor, and many others are now embedded in the American psyche, and a clear majority of Americans of all raceshave seen the problem and said, “No More.” Across America, indeed right here in Edgefield, we have not only seen but also supported peaceful BLM marches protesting this violence in which black people have been the wanton victims. We have nowvoted in an administration committed to changing the status quo that, heretofore, has allowed these things to occur again, and again, and again.
COVID-19 and our response to it constitute the biggest stories of the year 2020. Bringing justice in the name of Black Lives Matter would have been the top story otherwise, and it is still the story that the nation will be working to correct once COVID-19 has become just a bad national dream.