Starting 2021 On A… Chaotic Note

Isabel S. Wedll, Co-Editor In Chief

2nd March, 2021

As the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31, I think we all felt some relief that 2020 was over; lingering in the back of our heads, though, we knew that the chaos wouldn’t be over. Who would’ve thought that the new year would be broken in with an insurrection, start to settle with a second impeachment, calm with a presidential inauguration, and pick up again with a stock market short squeeze? I, for one, was only expecting a nice inauguration for the month that is usually dull and would’ve been a time for healing from what was the unspeakable 2020. But NOPE, we have to keep living through historical events to top the roaring 1920s. So join me, Old Sport, as we revisit the now notorious first month of 2021. 

Each Wednesday of the first month of the year held an impactful historical event; causing a variety of repercussions and affecting how the United States will proceed. (Graphic Credit: Marisa Mendosa)

January 6

Ah, this was supposed to be a very simple day. A fortifying count to formally certify that Joe Biden had won the presidential election in a democratic way. Unfortunately, as we all know, this did not happen. Blocks away from the White House, former President Trump was holding a rally to continue his campaign against the election results. Thousands of his followers―including Proud Boys, Q-Anon believers, and other far-right groups―were gathered to listen to his rally before the election certification was to begin. Around noon EST, his followers began surrounding the barricades of the Capitol building.

“About 15 minutes into his speech, Mr. Trump tells rally attendees to walk to the Capitol. ‘You have to show strength,’ he says,” the New York Times reported. Other Trump supporters were already on the Capitol Hill lawn, awaiting others to show up. In time, a number of his supporters would show agitation. The former president’s speech ended and some of his supporters started to harass police officers. The large crowd then marched down to Capitol Hill to meet the other Trump supporters outside of the first barricade of the building. Inside, Congress had separated into both chambers because Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Paul A. Gosar objected to the certification of Arizona’s electoral college votes. By around 2:15 p.m., “The pro-Trump mob breaches the Capitol, breaking windows and climbing inside the building, then opening doors for others to follow,” the Washington Post reported. Five minutes later, both chambers adjourned and began to evacuate as rioters forged through the building. 

Trump then tweeted at 2:24 p.m., “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” Protests began to gather outside of other state capitol buildings around the country. It continued to get more violent and destructive. Rioters were armed, offices were destroyed, some Trump supporters walked about hunting down Pence, Nancy Pelosi, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We all know how the rest went down. This mob was later told that “they’re special” and “I love you” by Trump once people were shot. Five people died that day due to the insurrection. Our country and democracy were threatened by its own citizens. To watch this all happen from across the country was shocking and traumatic. My eyes could not be peeled off of my computer, television, or cell phone. By the time the mob was somewhat under control and Congress was back in session, I was fatigued. To witness this experience from afar, I Zoomed with Social Studies teacher, Adam Pinkerton, and other students. We all sat there wide-eyed and depleted and it was only 1:10 p.m. Thus when it came to this article, who better to interview than the eloquent Mr. Pinkerton?

“Our democracy is dependent on voters participating in an electoral process that they believe is fair and impartial,” Pinkerton expressed. “The spreading of lies regarding voter irregularities (lies that have been dismissed by federal courts) will continue to cause a significant number of Americans to doubt the legitimacy of this recent election as well as future election results.” 

As for a students’ thoughts on this historical event, the politically active senior, Avery Arbaugh, was my go-to.

“[We] finally saw the consequence of our leaders feeding into these movements in a really scary and powerful way,” Arbaugh stated. 

Overall, this historical insurrection “[will] continue to impact our country for the foreseeable future,” Pinkerton stated. 

January 13

Second Wednesday of the year, yay! It’s impeachment day inside the same building that was attacked exactly a week prior; Trump was on trial for the insurrection that occurred. The House of Representatives voted and the former president was impeached for the second time, a historic first for our country. Ten Republicans voted with the Democrats and certified the impeachment. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was wearing her impeachment dress, this time with a mask, and signed the papers with confidence. 

“Words matter. Truth matters. Accountability matters. We here in this House have a sacred obligation to stand for truth,” Speaker Pelosi stated, according to an article by ABC News

Since the formal impeachment of the former president, the Senate impeachment trial was held. As of Feb. 13, the Senate voted to say that the insurrection and fragility of our democracy did not matter, by acquitting Trump a second time. Thanks, Mitch McConnell… To those Republican Senators that voted for conviction, kudos to you; y’all truly care about democracy. And Romney, I see you laying down your foundation to run for president in 2024. 

January 20

‘Twas Inauguration Day! Americans and the world watched as President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris took their oaths of office. Capitol Hill was decked out with flags and the National Guard. Politicians and celebrities were sprinkled throughout the very small, socially-distanced crowd on the same awnings that were breached two weeks before. Senator Bernie Sanders was bundled up in a way that started the now iconic meme. History was made with the first-ever woman, Black, and South Asian Vice President to hold office. 

Even with this sense of thrill throughout the country, we were also reminded to keep the new President and Vice President accountable for upholding their campaign promises.

“I am not idealistic enough to think that Biden and Harris can fix everything—they’re part of the system. But, they aren’t insane!” English teacher Julie Angles expressed. “Biden has a lot to answer for and Harris comes from a police background, so both of them will need to reach beyond their comfort zone.”

For many it felt like a weight being lifted off of their chests, myself included. For others, it was a day of sadness. But I think we can all agree it felt nice for the country to seem serene for just a day. And to save the best for last, the poet Amanda Gorman stole people’s hearts with her reading of “The Hill We Climb”. 

“I’m thankful the world saw her,” Angles wrote. Personally, I think we have found America’s new sweetheart who will continue to enlighten us with her words. 

January 27

Reddit-Jordan-Belfort-wannabe-users banned together days before to pull a “Trading Places” type of money grab; as in, they bought up cheap stock. They mostly focused on GameStop, which resulted in a tsunami of memes to come. By Wednesday, a short-squeeze was occurring in the stock market. Hedge funders and other Wall Street people were crying and losing money. Hedge funders and other professionals in the stock market world had bet that GameStop’s shares were going to plummet, but regular people turned against the wealthy professionals by buying shares, turning the squeeze of GameStop’s value back on the hedge funders.

“That caused GameStop’s market value to increase to over $24 billion from $2 billion in a matter of days,” the New York Times reported. 

But basically, normal people congregated via the internet and made tiptop wealthy people lose money. These people beat the hedge funders at their own game, which resulted in the rich losing great ordeals of money. 

“While the 1,700% rise of GameStop’s stock was definitely surprising, the volatility of the stock market is a constant feature and bubbles are nothing new,” Pinkerton stated. “The recent events that have taken place in the stock market are not anywhere near as shocking and have logical explanations based in reality.”

Since then, GameStop’s stock value has decreased, which was bound to happen with how the stock market is operating these days. Either way, this short squeeze was funny to watch from afar, and it helped me kind of understand the stock market better. 

So What Can We Do?

“I am a bit of a cynic, and I’m not sure our country will ever unite. Being “the land of opportunity” is a double-edged sword,” Angles expressed. “We have incredible diversity in our population, but humans tend to stick with what they feel most comfortable around, and the people in power are in no hurry to lose that power.” With this pile of historical events, one on top of another, it can be difficult to see a brighter future ahead. Even with cynicism and pessimism eating away at our hopes for the future, I, a self-described cynical-pessimistic-realist, believe things can get better. But in order for our country to be this great united force, we deem ourselves to be—when in reality we are not and never have been—it will take good ol’ American compromise. It will take a willingness to change, to further educate ourselves, to care, and to be empathetic. All of these factors play into the reaction that needs to occur in order for change to happen. It will not simply happen because one sits in their room frowning at the news, and then maybe reposting about it on social media. These historical events need to be the catalyst for the reaction to cause change. Do what you can with the means you have. Create, write, donate, read, etc. Any one of those actions can help create change and thus a better future. It’s up to us to cause change. 

“I’m counting on you youngsters fixing everything—Ha-ha!” Angles wrote. 

So, use these quaran-times to your advantage and don’t just make yourself a better person, but try to send something positive into the world.