This year 2021 began with immense relief when Donald Trump stepped down. We were hoping to emerge from the ravages of COVID-19, pass hefty infrastructure bills and make deep cuts to the Pentagon’s budget. But, alas, we were faced with a January 6 white nationalist insurgency, two new COVID mutations, a sliced ââBuild Back Better proposal that did not pass, and a Pentagon budget that made it increases!
It was, indeed, a disastrous year, but we have a few reasons to celebrate:
- The United States survived its first major coup plot in recent history. Many participants in the January 6 uprising have been charged, some face significant prison terms. New efforts to mobilize the far right, including that of SeptemberJustice for J6âRally – fizzled out. In early 2021, Trump was impeached for the second time. He lost his main spokesperson, Twitter, and his try to build a rival social media service appears to be at a standstill. QAnon is in decline – its main hashtags have evaporated and Twitter close some 70,000 QAnon accounts. We may still see a resurgence (including another attempt by Trump to take over the White House in 2024), but so far the insurgency appears to have reached its peak and is receding.
- Latin America is changing rapidly towards progressive governments. Gabriel Boric, a young Chilean progressive who campaigned for sweeping reforms including universal healthcare and a higher minimum wage, won a landslide victory in December. His victory follows the victories of Xiomara Castro in Honduras in November, Pedro Castillo in Peru in June and Luis Arce in Bolivia in October 2020. In Brazil, former president Lula da Silva could return to the presidency in the elections of next year. All of this bodes well for policies that benefit the peoples of Latin America and for greater solidarity with the people of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other nations in the sights of the United States.
- The fight for racial justice and accountability had major victories in 2021. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of all three counts relating to the murder of George Floyd and has to plead guilty in the federal civil rights version of the case. The three Georgians who killed Ahmaud Arbery were also sentenced. Progressive district attorneys in cities and counties across this country are fight to end it cash bond and no-go warrants, mass incarceration and mandatory minimum sentences. We are seeing a backlash against these ADs, like in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but they have strong community support.
- US troops have left Afghanistan, ending a deadly twenty-year military intervention. Some of us were against this American invasion at the outset and for twenty years pushed the departure of American troops. The exit took place in the same shameful chaotic way like the twenty years of war, and the United States is once again targeting the Afghan people in frozen the billions of dollars of Afghan money held in foreign banks. This is why CODEPINK and other organizations have joined the effort to #Unfreeze afghanistan. But we recognize that the withdrawal of American troops was necessary to give Afghans the chance to shape their own future, to stop spending $ 300 million a day on a failed war, and to roll back American militarism.
- Amid setbacks in the fight against COVID-19, we have won battles against other deadly diseases. Malaria, which kills half a million people a year, mostly in Africa, could be conquered with a vaccine, the first for a parasitic disease. On the HIV front, a new vaccine showed a 97 percent response rate in Phase I clinical trials. Almost forty million people were living with HIV in 2020, and hundreds of thousands of people die from HIV / AIDS-related illnesses each year. Although the vaccine is still in Phase I trials, this is an extremely promising sign for 2022.
- The un Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in 2017, entered into force this year after having fulfilled the requirement of its ratification by at least fifty countries. The United States and other nuclear powers around the world have not signed the treaty, and it has no enforcement mechanism, but for the first time in history nuclear weapons are illegal under international law . With eighty-six signatories So far, the treaty has helped delegitimize nuclear weapons and strengthen global standards against their use. At a time when the outcome of the nuclear talks with Iran is uncertain and the conflicts with Russia and China concerning Ukraine and Taiwan are intensifying, such a reminder is called for.
- In the United States, workers are actually gaining power amid the ravages of COVID-19. Wages are rising and unions starts to reappear. With millions of workers leaving their jobs from burnout or reassessing life goals (nicknamed the “Great resignation), The resulting labor shortage gave workers more room to demand better wages, benefits and working conditions. There was more than 300 strikesfrom hospitals to coal-fired power stations to universities, and many of them have been successful. Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York, have successfully formed the first union at a Starbucks store in the United States. Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama lost their attempt to form Amazon’s first union, but the National Labor Relations Board has order re-election due to management misconduct. So 2022 could well be a banner year for the labor movement.
- While far from sufficient, there have been key environmental gains, with President Joe Biden starting his term in office in to return the Paris Climate Agreement. The COP26 meeting highlighted the urgent need for accelerated environmental action, with environmental activists around the world pressuring their own governments to step up their efforts. Forty-four nations have now committed to end use of coal, and the G7 countries have sworn not to funds coal-fired power stations. Here in the United States, through sustained environmental activism, the XL keystone and PennEast the pipelines were officially canceled, and the Biden administration banned oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Renewable energy installations are at an all time high and wind farms are foreseen all over the American coast. Another big polluter, China, is building the biggest energy installation in history – a whopping 100 gigawatts of wind and solar power (the total capacity, as of 2021, of solar power generation in the United States) – and plans to plant a Area the size of Belgium of forest every year in the future.
- There have indeed been advances for reproductive rights this year.. When we look beyond the outrageous anti-abortion law in Texas which allows private citizens to sue abortion providers, we find that many countries in the rest of the world are moving in the opposite direction. In 2021, abortion was legalized in South Korea, Thailand and Argentina, while safe access increased in New Zealand, Ecuador and Uruguay. A major victory in a very Catholic country came in September, when the Supreme Court of Mexico decriminalized abortion. Isn’t it ironic that before Roe vs. Wade, would thousands of people from the US states along the Mexican border enter Mexico to have (illegally) abortions? Now they could still go, but this time for legal abortions.
- Another reason to celebrate: 2021 is over. And 2022 could actually be the year we conquer COVID-19 and move forward on a full agenda of pressing issues, including pushing Congress to pass a version of the Build Back Better bill; push for the passage of voting rights legislation that will end the outrageous voter suppression efforts by many states; mobilization against the far right and return of Trump or Trump-lite; end the cold war with China; prevent a military conflict with Russia in Ukraine; and cut the outrageous Pentagon budget to invest in the health of our people and the planet.
If we could make any gains in a year as bad as 2021, just think about what we can accomplish in 2022.