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December 14, 2020: The Day the News Cycle Crashed

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Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Pexels

Grim milestones, electoral uncertainty, and a big resignation.

As far as crammed 2020 news days, perhaps none stood apart like Monday, December 14, 2020. The dichotomy between good, bad, and ugly could not have been more stark. A whirlwind inside of a cornucopia.

First, there was the Electoral College. Often ignored, mostly understood, sometimes regarded as pointless, yesterday it stood up like never before. Yes, we know that each state has a number of votes that they submit to the Electoral College, and that after each state meets, and votes - based on the outcome of each state's elections - a president-elect is officially named.

But this year, the Electoral College, which in the past has been a subject of fierce debate, carried a tremendous amount of weight, and positivity. The term feels like the second-best phrase of 2020 besides "vaccination approved." Each, an elixir to a country that has been torn-apart and sickened.

It's an ugly irony that on the day Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. became the 46th president-elect by winning 306 electoral votes, and 6.4 million coronavirus vaccinations were initially distributed, the United States passed 300,000 deaths from COVID-19. What will December 14, 2020 be most remembered for? Electoral votes, vaccinations, or deaths?

Or, will it be the day that Attorney General Bill Barr resigned, and left the United States, until December 23, with a rotting guardrail of justice that will decay and disintegrate on the day he leaves and thus allow a runaway president to fly off the road of justice into a pit of mortifying malfeasance?

Maybe it will be those 306 votes? Despite every effort to subvert, litigate, meddle, undermine, bypass, and upend the overwhelming victory of Biden, democracy stood firm on this date, and thwarted back all the corrosiveness of the past six weeks. Three hundred and six was the number that saved a republic, stomped out mischievousness, and swatted at malevolence. Historians will write that the U.S.A., for a brief period, and under the unsuccessful rueful rage of the 45th president, almost became the second coming of the U.S.S.R.

Then, a 78-year-old man, whose political career was stamped "retired" because he had achieved all that could be had, except the top office, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom as his goodbye salutation, and then resurrected like Lazarus. He needed 65 million votes - at most - and he got over 80 million. He needed 270 electoral votes. He got 306.

Operation Warp Speed hastened the development of a vaccine that has been needled from the outset by political turmoil. We were told to trust it, and then not to. Told by Dr. Fauci to take it. Told by the Senate via an anti-vax proponent not to. Told that three ex-presidents would take it publicly. And gweeted at - not told - that it was all of Trump's creation and should be called the "Trump Vaccine." That Trump, who laughed at masks, and prescribed unapproved medications and detergents as fixes to a deadly virus, was suddenly the vaccine expert.

Yet, through all of the muck, through all of the money, through all of the madness, science prevailed, and a vaccine for a horrific pandemic passed through the FDA, through FedEx trucks and through nursing homes and hospital doors; 6.4 million vials were released like captive doves into a country desperate for peace from the virus.

But the family, friends, neighbors and co-workers of 300,000 people will never be at peace again because of the loss of their loved ones. This gruesome number, reached on December 14, is a morbid milestone, and it will go higher, may even double, and that's a tragedy that is inexplicable, incalculable and incomprehensible.

How in God's name did a country like the United States of America allow this to happen? We were the leader in medicine. Breakthroughs in cures that originated on our shores, within our borders, saved lives around the world. Yet, here we are. And why does the reaction seem so muted? Why aren't these losses hitting us just as hard as the senselessness of 9/11, of Sandy Hook, and of Orlando Pulse? Three-hundred thousand people have died. Just say that out loud. How will their lives be honored? How will we commemorate their deaths? What will the future say about their sacrifice? Will justice ever be served for the culpable killer that is COVID-19?

On December 14, 2020, the Attorney General of the United States resigned. He was complicit in protecting the injustices of the 45th president, and the Dear Leader's accomplices and his circle of criminals. The AG was a racist. He approved tear-bombing of peaceful protesters, lied about the Mueller report and ignored systematic racism in the judicial system.

Yet, despite his woefully wrong ways, America's cracked judicial system would nearly cave during the month after his departure, when the 45th president used a deputy attorney general to tear away as much as he could until January 20, 2021, when the man who would be president stepped in and stopped the crumbling of justice. But was the 46th president too late? How much of the damage was too far gone? Was December 14 a harbinger to a more ominous date of December 23?

A news day that blew away all other news days may only be the beginning of more head-spinning cycles of news for the last 18 days of December. It's hard to know what lies ahead for the man who won the presidency. What happens on January 6, when the Senate, overseen by Vice President Pence, is set to approve those votes? Will Pence use trickery one last time to try and rob America of democracy? We let out a victory cheer on December 14, or should we hold our applause until January 20, 2021 at 12:01 p.m.?

And what's ahead for the 6.4 million who were initially vaccinated and the many millions who will - or won't - follow. We celebrate the vaccine as a light at the end of a dark pandemic tunnel. But we don't know the longterm effects of the vaccine. Should we be breathing a sigh of relief or holding our breath?

How about the loved ones of the victims and the memories of the 300,000 dead and the untold number who will continue to die? Who will be next? Some families have been spared so far. Many lives are unknowingly queued up to go next - and that's a frightening scenario that none of us wants to think about. Should we be mourning for those that have fallen, or preparing ourselves to try and fiercely protect those who will go next?

What will happen to a justice system that is on the verge of collapse? Will Barr's successor take a step back, and let the 45th president insert himself as the arbiter of justice? Will we be subjected to a breathtaking display of pardons, commutations, executions and legality be-damned? Should we rejoice in Barr's exit, or steel ourselves for something that might be unimaginably worse than Barr?

All of this began to happen on one cold late autumn day. What will the history books say about December 14, 2020? Or will this day look like a walk in the park compared to December 15, or 16, or 23, or 28? 2020 has been sinister. Do we see the end of the year as a reason to become more optimistic, or should our pessimism hold for the time being?

John Casey is the editor at large of The Advocate.

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