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So Long 2020: A Reflection On This Maddening Year In Politics

Then-Director of ODH Amy Acton talks masks on Feb. 27, as Gov. Mike DeWine looks on; Joe Biden in Cincinnati in Oct.; protesters at the Ohio Statehouse in April; Pres. Trump in Dayton in Sept.; an Ohio voter submits her absentee ballot.
Then-Director of ODH Amy Acton talks masks on Feb. 27, as Gov. Mike DeWine looks on; Joe Biden in Cincinnati in Oct.; protesters at the Ohio Statehouse in April; Pres. Trump in Dayton in Sept.; an Ohio voter submits her absentee ballot.

We will all, I'm sure, be glad to the see the backside of the year 2020 as it disappears from view in a week or so.

And we will all, I'm equally sure, hope and pray for a return to normalcy – or something approaching normalcy – in the year 2021.

As a journalist who has been actively covering politics for 47 years now, this was the first time in my career that I would sit down at my laptop to write and have this feeling too many times that I was wasting words writing about trivial squabbles among politicians of all stripes.

Back-and-forth squabbles that were, in fact, meaningless in a time when thousands upon thousands of our fellow citizens were suffering and dying from an unrelenting, unseen virus that spread through the very air that we breathe.

I confess that it was very hard to bring myself to take their posturing and publicity stunts seriously.

And, yet, politics was at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning. Even more so, as it rages on today, with the glimmer of hope in potentially life-saving vaccines that are now beginning to spread out to the most vulnerable among us.

Yes, even now, as I watch perfectly healthy political figures – mostly members of Congress, who are not old enough or involved enough to be among the most vulnerable – lining up to have their photographs taken with their sleeves rolled up for their vaccine shots "to set an example" for the rest of us.

I know some are very sincere about that, because they truly do want people not to fear the vaccines; I wonder about others though. I'm skeptical about the motivation of politicians. That is, in fact, my job.

The fact is, though, that COVID-19 has been at the heart of nearly every political story of 2020.

You can start with the presidential race, where a widespread belief among voters that Donald Trump spent far too much time early on denying that the coronavirus was a serious problem – comparing it to the flu and telling Americans it would quickly "go away" – translated into votes for Joe Biden, now the president-elect.

And, as mind-boggling as it may seem, the simple act of wearing a mask in public somehow became a political statement, as the COVID-deniers fought the mask mandates tooth and nail.

In Ohio, Kentucky and many other states, governors struggling to deal with the death and destruction of the pandemic became the target of political attacks, accused of overreaching their authority and turning themselves into little dictators, hell-bent on destroying the economy of their own states.

It was not just a virus that was loose in the world of politics this year. It was a touch of madness as well.  

Here's to hoping 2021 will be slightly less maddening. This is politics we're talking about after all.

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Credit Jim Nolan / WVXU
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