Opinion | Spotify Wrapped: American politics of the decade edition


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Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks on Dec. 19, 2019, in Washington, D.C., during a weekly news conference.

By Devi Ruia, Senior Staff Columnist

As we enter this new decade, the state of American politics is unclear.

The 2020 presidential election has the power to shape the future of politics and our country for many years to come. Plus, President Donald Trump’s impeachment is likely to hit the Senate this year. Many negative political moments in previous years have led us to where we are today, but as we look back on the past decade, there are plenty of positive moments that have given us hope for the future or have begun to shape this new decade. Here are some of my favorite moments in American politics throughout the decade — think of it as a Spotify Wrapped for our nation.


  1. Saturday Night Live’s Political Sketches

Saturday Night Live has always shone brightest in its political sketches. While those sketches were somewhat lacking during the Obama years, they still gave us a great spoof of the iconic “Schoolhouse Rock” song “I’m Just a Bill” about executive orders during that time. Not to mention, one of the only good parts of the 2016 election and the Trump administration has been the litany of SNL sketches about it all. From Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer to Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump to Kate McKinnon as literally everyone else, SNL has kept us laughing even in the most frustrating of political moments.


  1. The 2018 midterm elections

The 2018 midterm elections led to Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives and appointing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. It also led to an incredible surge of female candidates, candidates of color and LGBTQ+ candidates elected to serve in Congress, making the 116th Congress the most diverse one ever. Plus, the House has been able to pass great legislation, such as the Equality Act, thanks to the 2018 midterm elections. 


  1. Sen. John McCain gave a thumbs down to repealing the Affordable Care Act

The late Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., may not have been someone who I always agreed with. However, no one can deny that he was a respectable politician who strived to do what he believed was the right thing for the American people. One iconic example of that was when he walked onto the Senate floor and gave a thumbs down, signifying that he was voting no to repealing the Affordable Care Act.


  1. The Affordable Care Act passed

While the ACA, or “Obamacare,” may not be a perfect answer to the health care crisis in America, it’s still an incredibly helpful piece of legislation that has benefited many Americans. Not to mention, it’s inspirational that Congress and the Obama White House got the ACA passed, as they faced many obstacles to do so. While I hope that we move toward a single-payer health care system in this new decade, we can’t move forward without acknowledging the great work of the ACA.


  1. Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street was a movement that began at the beginning of the decade to stand up against economic inequality. It was a great example of the 99% fighting against the 1%, and many say that it helped spawn other protest movements of the decade like Black Lives Matter.


  1. Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral for South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney

After the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, at the Emanuel AME Church — a black church with a history of civil rights organizing — President Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral of a pastor who was killed during the shooting. In his eulogy, he spoke about the concept of grace and reaching out to others. Then he began to sing, and the church sang with him. It was an incredibly powerful moment that showed President Obama’s ability to do what any good president should — lead the nation through tragedy and inspire hope while doing so.


  1. The work of incredible activists, especially young ones

One of the biggest groups that deserves a shoutout this decade is activists. From activist groups fighting against systemic racism and violence like Black Lives Matter, to health care activists like Ady Barkan and coalitions fighting against gun violence like Moms Demand Action, activists have been doing so much this decade and in previous ones to make our country better. Young activists have gotten more attention in recent years, like groups such as the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who created March For Our Lives to stand up against gun violence and inaction from politicians. Young climate activists like Greta Thunberg and Little Miss Flint are fighting as well to move the world to take action to combat climate change. These activists and others like them have already made our country better and provide the most hope for me going into the new decade.


  1. The #MeToo Movement and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s congressional testimony

The #MeToo movement is an incredibly important part of this decade. Although it was actually started in 2006 by Tarana Burke, the hashtag made a resurgence on social media in 2017 following the many sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. The #MeToo movement led to a worldwide discussion about sexual harassment and assault that permeated across several industries, including U.S politics. This movement is part of what led Congress to allow Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to testify about sexual assault allegations she had made against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Her testimony was incredibly brave and moving, and many survivors of sexual violence saw themselves in her. While Kavanaugh is unfortunately on the Supreme Court anyway due to cowardice on the part of Republican senators — and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., — Dr. Ford showed courage and will always be an example of an American patriot.


  1. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in the Obergefell v. Hodges case

Marriage equality finally became the law of the land this decade after the Supreme Court decided that the 14th amendment required all states to recognize and license the marriages of same-sex couples. While the fight for equal rights is far from over, this was still a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community, for equality and for our nation as a whole.

Devi primarily writes about politics for The Pitt News. Write to her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter for more hot takes @DeviRuia.