The pundits promised that 2021 would mark “a return to normal.” What we got was a year filled with agonizing disappointments and stunning victories.
If I were a movie critic and the year’s events were major Hollywood releases, here are the six getting the biggest thumbs-down and thumbs-up.
The $2 Trillion “Rescue” Plan: Soon after taking office, President Joe Biden engineered a $2 trillion borrow-and-spend extravaganza on the claim that the economy was in desperate need of help. But by the time he signed his “American Rescue Plan” into law, the recession had been over for a full year, and the economy had regained almost all of its COVID-lockdown losses. Even some liberal economists warned that spending a mountain of cash in the middle of a booming economy would spark an inflationary spiral. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. In November inflation hit 6.8%, the highest in nearly 40 years.
The Biden-fueled Border Crisis: Candidate Biden promised that, if elected, he’d throw out all of Trump’s border control policies and replace the wall with a welcome mat. Illegal immigrants got the message and came flooding across the border, creating a heartbreaking humanitarian crisis.
Biden first tried to blame the crisis on the weather: “It happens every single, solitary year,” he said in March. “There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March.” But the number of illegal crossings remained at historic highs throughout the long, hot summer. Since Biden took office, more than 1.6 million crossed the border illegally, a 338% percent increase from the year before.
Afghanistan: The shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan consigned thousands to a terrible fate and left billions in weapons to the Taliban. Let’s pass over the many deceptions Biden used to justify and then defend his disastrous decisions. What matters now are the repercussions. China’s increased belligerence and Russia’s threatening moves toward Ukraine clearly stem from Biden’s perceived weakness as a commander in chief. His actions since haven’t helped. Most recently, for example, he’s been making concessions to Russia so they don’t invade Ukraine while promising not to send U.S. troops if they do. All three of these disasters were completely avoidable, and they all carry dire, long-term consequences.
So, what about the hits? Here are the three worthy of enthusiastic thumbs-up.
Parents: At the start of the year, schools were still shut down, and critical race theory was spreading like wildfire. Then something unexpected happened. Parents rebelled. They rebelled against education bureaucrats who were indifferent to their children’s needs. They became furious when they learned about the race-baiting, Marxist-inspired claptrap schools had been shoving down their kids’ throats. Millions of families got up and left. Public schools across the nation saw enrollment drop. Private schools saw sharp gains, and the number of home-schoolers nearly doubled.
There’s more. In Virginia, a state Biden carried by a 10-point margin, this issue fueled the Republicans’ high-profile and unexpected election sweep. That grassroots-driven result energized not only education choice advocates but the entire conservative movement.
State lawmakers: The left spent much of the year claiming that election fraud was a myth. They portrayed anyone who wanted to improve election integrity as racist. Yet several states persevered and enacted reforms like voter ID requirements to improve the public’s faith and trust in elections. Meanwhile, the left’s attempt to federalize state elections — which would have canceled many state integrity laws and thrown open the door to fraud — ended in failure. For anyone who cares about honest elections, both were important victories.
The Supreme Court: What may deserve the biggest thumbs-up has yet to be determined, but the fact that the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade is even a possibility is a monumental victory. Even the left seems reconciled to this fate, which would return the abortion issue to the states. The Dobbs case is energizing conservatives for another reason. For 48 years the pro-life movement worked tirelessly to overturn Roe. If that finally happens next year, it will inspire conservatives to carry on with other seemingly hopeless long-term battles.
The biggest victory, however, is that conservatives are heading into 2022 more energized than ever, while the left faces a public angry over that damage it has done to the country. I’d call that a pretty good start to the New Year.
This piece originally appeared in The Sacramento Bee