The year began with many Americans believing things could not get any weirder or any wilder. And, of course, they did.
There were moments of drama and intrigue, and sadly for the country the year ended on the sour note of impeachment, which further erodes trust in government. The intelligence and judiciary committee hearings that preceded the House impeachment debate stretched us like rubber bands, testing our national resilience.
A lot of guns were fired in 2019 in cities like Odessa and Midland, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Virginia Beach; and Pensacola, Florida. Many lives were lost.
Poor New Zealand saw domestic terrorism and a volcanic eruption — both ended lives. U.S. Special Forces killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. U.S. troops were pulled out of Syria. Protests engulfed Hong Kong, and a damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris started to rebuild. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was voted back in so that the Brits can back out of the European Union. Iran and North Korea remained unresolved nuclear problems.
China’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft landed on the moon in early January with the mission to explore the terrain on the moon’s mysterious far side. Meanwhile, the U.S. trade war with China appeared to abate this final month of the year.
Unemployment levels remained under 4% this year, showing U.S. economic resilience.
Boeing planes fell out of the sky in 2019, the aircraft and aerospace giant decided last week to suspend production of the beleaguered 737 Max aircraft, and on Monday it fired its CEO. Self-driving cars were tested. Thousands of immigrant children from Latin America were detained after crossing the border.
The FDA recommended the approval of the first drug for treating peanut allergies in children. Researchers made a breakthrough in gene therapy for sickle cell anemia. For the first time, a specially built drone delivered a donated kidney that was later used in successful transplant surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Women led the way in 2019 despite the targets of the #MeToo movement standing in their way. Women won a historic number of seats in Congress and continued running for the White House. Women set attendance and viewing records for the World Cup in France, and a young girl told the UN in New York to start paying attention to climate change. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the first all-woman spacewalk in NASA history.
Looking ahead to next year, the presidential election looms and that could lead to deeper polarization. And yet let’s imagine a world less divided, a nation less polarized and Americans more generous and understanding. That would be a perfect vision. Happy holidays.
Tara D. Sonenshine, a former U.S. undersecretary of state in the Obama administration, advises students at The George Washington University.