Good riddance to a terrible year

About the only good thing that can be said about 2020 is that it’s over. It was an annus horribilis.

COVID took the lives of more than 340,000 Americans, about 1 out of every 1,000 of us.

Over 22 million of us lost our jobs in March and April, and unemployment is again surging.

The trend of fatal police shootings increased this year, with a total 864 civilians having been shot, 192 of whom were Black (as of December 1, 2020, the latest data available).

Climate change has worsened. The U.S. suffered an extraordinary 12 hurricane landfalls in 2020, smashing previous records. California had the worst wildfire season ever, burning a staggering 4.1 million acres.

The president of the United States made all these crises worse. He played down and lied about COVID. He condemned Black Lives Matter protesters and encouraged right-wing violence. He made the climate crisis worse than it might have been by rejecting climate science and rolling back environmental protections.

His last act has been to attack democracy head on by contesting the 2020 election and stirring up Republican voters to believe he won—despite losing by over 7 million votes, losing the Electoral College with 232 electoral votes compared to Biden’s 306 (270 Electoral College votes are needed to win), and then losing 59 of 60 court cases alleging fraud or election “irregularities” as well as a Supreme Court refusal to even hear a case.

For 2021, I wish you and your family to be healthy, avoid COVID, and get inoculated as soon as you can. I hope your children will be able to attend classes and socialize with friends, without risk. If you’ve lost a job, I hope you to find a new one that pays as well if not better, and that you are able to pay your bills and keep your family housed and fed without economic anxiety.

And I hope that Joe Biden reverses as much of the corruption, degradation, bigotry, hostility, inequality, and catastrophic climate change as is humanly possible.

In short, I wish you and yours a better year than 2020.

This post originally appeared at

Robert B. Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley and former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His film, Inequality for All, was released in 2013. Follow him on Twitter: @RBReich.

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