Covid-19 transformed political landscapes across the world when it drastically altered the power governments had to restrict ordinary people’s lives and freedoms. But is Covid-19 destined to overshadow other political milestones? Here’s my pick of just five of the most crucial moments in politics since 2020.
1. 1 February 2020: Britain officially withdraws from the European Union
Before Covid hit the UK, Brexit was the biggest event that the public lamented as ‘dragging on’ – anyone else miss when that was our biggest inconvenience? After a string of unsuccessful attempts to reach a Brexit deal with the EU and an election won for Boris Johnson on the basis that he would ‘get Brexit done’, he made good on his promise and Britain finally waved goodbye to the EU.
2. June 2020: Height of the Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd
The murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin sparked widespread public demonstrations against racism that expanded across continents. Hailed by the New York Times as perhaps the largest mass movement in US history, the protests had a profound impact on society and led to a greater awareness of how racism continues to pollute our everyday life with catastrophic consequences.
3. 20 January 2021: Donald Trump’s infamous reign is ended when Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States
In his inauguration speech, Biden placed heavy focus on the divides created in America by polarising political opinions and the pandemic. He pledged that he would help the American people once again find unity – healing divides which proved much more entrenched and dangerous than Biden perhaps originally assessed them to be. The landmark election was billed as a referendum on Trumpism, and crucially marked a victory for the Democrats.
4. 30 August 2021: The US finalises its withdrawal from Afghanistan
After a 20-year war, US troops were pulled from Afghanistan in what has arguably been Biden’s most significant political move yet. The US’ deeply controversial exit left Afghanistan at the mercy of Taliban rule, with people who were intended to be rescued left behind. Biden resisted pressure to extend the deadline for the withdrawal but maintained his decision to finish the war at the end of August last year. America’s decision to leave a country it had been defending against the Taliban for so long has been deeply criticised, with some arguing it rendered those 20 years of war redundant.
5. February 2022: Russian Invasion of Ukraine?
Unfolding rapidly, the crisis over whether Russia is planning to invade Ukraine has been making headlines most recently. Opinions differ as to whether Russia will actually invade Ukraine, on 15 February Russia claimed to be pulling back some troops from the border while world leaders claimed the threat was still present and severe. The extent to which the situation will prove to be a political milestone is thus still uncertain, but the extent to which it has already rattled the world suggests it may prove to be.