The year 2021 started with an air of change as President Joe Biden was set to be sworn into office and the arrival of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine gave people hope that the pandemic would be nearing its close. However, the year was hardly smooth sailing in the political arena. In a highly volatile and transformative year for the nation, political stories continued to grab the headlines.
Here are seven of the biggest news stories in the political arena in 2021.
January 6 InsurrectionRead More »
Nearly one year later, over 700 people have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for their role in the insurrection. While some Republican leaders downplay the events of the day, a special investigative committee in the House of Representatives is still working to sort through the evidence and define the role that then-President Donald Trump played in the riots.
The panel is hoping to release its interim findings by the summer of 2022. Until then, this story is certain to continue to dominate the news cycle as both sides of the aisle weigh in on Trump’s alleged role in the event.
Ongoing Global Pandemic
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic overflowed into the political arena once again in 2021. Although masks and shutdown debates were the major pandemic political issue of the year 2020, it was the vaccine that was causing divisiveness this past year. Vaccine hesitancy was largely split along party lines with an overwhelmingly larger number of Republicans opting not to get vaccinated.
After alluding to the worst days of the pandemic being behind us when he addressed the nation in July, Biden was forced to backtrack just as the Delta variant began raging through the nation. Once again, the nation thought that the situation was getting brighter heading into the holidays. However, the highly contagious Omicron variant dashed those hopes as the U.S. set daily record high numbers for confirmed cases to close out the year.
While Biden can point to some victories in the fight against the deadly virus, the heated political nature of nearly every decision regarding the pandemic has continued to cripple his approval ratings. In addition, conflicting messages from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have left this government agency open to criticism throughout the year.
Extreme Weather and Climate Change Action Stalling Out
Although you would think that everyone could agree on the importance of taking steps to combat climate change, this issue is still a hot-button topic across the political landscape. Extreme weather was a major story over the course of 2021, ranging from a winter storm that left much of Texas without power for days, devastating hurricanes and wildfires, heatwaves, and rare severe storms in December.
With Biden in office, the U.S. officially rejoined the international fight to limit global warming as it reentered into the Paris agreement last February. However, this action was largely met with inaction on Capitol Hill. The Biden administration made an attempt to tackle climate change when it included numerous provisions in the Build Back Better legislation. This legislation passed the House but has yet to make it through the Senate.
Challenge to Abortion Rights
It was not surprising that abortion rights faced the biggest challenge in decades in 2021. A Supreme Court with three Trump appointees now has a 6-3 conservative majority, giving anti-abortion activists the seats that they want to put these rights to the test and undermine the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
The Court agreed to hear a challenge to a current Mississippi law that makes abortions after 15 weeks illegal. In addition, the state of Texas banned abortions after six weeks with no exceptions for incest or rape, sparking outrage among liberals and pro-choice advocates.
It is clear that this issue is not going away anytime soon. It will likely become another hot issue with the midterms approaching in 2022.
Restrictive Voting Laws
Over the course of 2021, a total of 19 states passed 34 new laws that restricted voting, according to a recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice. While every law was slightly different, some of the most common themes included shortening the window to apply for a mail-in ballot and tougher identification requirements.
The new legislation has ignited waves of criticism from voting rights activists. The trend is not likely to end in 2022. Four states have already pre-filed over a dozen bills set for voting during the 2022 legislative sessions. The bills differ in nature, however, they all will make it more difficult for an American to cast their ballot.
Crisis in Afghanistan
The political headlines were not limited to domestic issues. Almost 20 years after the U.S. first invaded Afghanistan under then-President George W. Bush, Biden made the decision to withdraw the troops from the region in August. Most pundits were in agreement with the administration to leave the country, however, the speed in which Biden left Afghanistan and turned it back over to Taliban militants drew intense criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Images of Afghans trying to flee the region by jumping on airplanes at the Kabul airport brought home the dire situation unfolding. In the middle of the chaos, 13 U.S. service members were killed outside the airport’s gates by a terrorist attack via suicide blast.
Every American was significantly affected by inflation in 2021. Prices rose at the fastest clip in 40 years, creating an avalanche of problems for the Biden administration. The dramatic increase in prices was blamed on a pandemic-fueled recession, government stimulus checks giving Americans more spending money, and a higher demand for goods such as cars. It was a perfect storm of factors that was compounded even further by workforce shortages.
These seven stories defined the political year of 2021. However, the story is far from over for most of these issues heading into the new year.
Explore Games and Apps