Messages from the President
December 23 2020: 2020—A Retrospective
Posted on December 23, 2020 at 12:00 AM
The year started on a high note—with two major events on the horizon. A celebration of the women’s suffrage centennial was one. What a milestone! After almost a century of protest, women gained the right to cast their own vote, to pick their leaders, and to run for leadership positions themselves. And now another century later they entered 2020 with renewed vigor to tackle persistent issues such as sexual harassment and sexual violence, reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, hoping to finally achieve equal participation in national affairs.
And then there was the presidential election. We celebrated the six women on the Democratic ticket for president of the United States. And we hailed the 643 women who ran for Congress: 393 (61%) were Democrats and 267 (42%) were women of color. The culmination was an election that gave Democrats the White House and the first female Vice President, she too a woman of color! And the most racially, ethnically, and gender diverse Congress in our 244-year history.
Just as this year marked the end of a 4-year governance nightmare, it also saw an awakening in America on a scale not seen before. Racial justice and police brutality took center-stage. Cries of Black Lives Matter were heard across the nation as protestors demanded action. Existential issues like climate change and assault weapons ban became a rallying cry and Republican voter suppression tactics spurred a revolt leading to the largest voter turnout in the history of our nation. The tragic loss of a feminist icon like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ensuing national outpouring of grief further strengthened our resolve to continue fighting for gender parity and progressive values. The incoming Biden administration is setting a record in diversity in its cabinet picks. The promised roll-back of the regressive policies of the Trump era is adding to a celebratory mood. And the crowning glory is the creation and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine within one year, another record-setting example of scientific success.
Amidst the calamities of death, disease, and economic deprivation shone the kinder, gentler face of humanity. Food distribution networks proliferated. A larger awareness grew of the yawning income gap in our populations, the deficits in our educational system, and the disparity in access to better healthcare options. Just as dependence on electronic media grew, loneliness melted into self-reliance, books became our new best friends, and people suddenly learnt the value of exercise and the great outdoors. The kitchen once again became the focal point of existence in our rediscovered homes, as we Zoomed in and out of our new virtual school or workplace. As people skidded further apart from each other, the larger world slid ever closer, on electronic skates.
We enter the new year with anticipation and hope. Change is in the air. We will bring into this rebirth of ours, as we slowly emerge from our cocoons, a gentler sensibility, a greater sense of the value of community and an appreciation of the physical world around us. We will perhaps wonder why we hadn’t stepped off the spinning merry-go-round earlier, to hear the birds chirp and to feel more keenly the gentle evening breeze. And then the thought might stray into our minds that 2020 wasn’t such a bad year after all.
The nearer the dawn, the darker the night. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
President, Woman’s National Democratic Club