The Daily Beast

The Best Thing That Happened in 2020? American Voters Saved Our Democracy.

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Some years loom larger than others. The year 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression. Then 1945 and the end of World War II. In 1968, we saw a year of social unrest across the United States. More recently, we lived through 2001 and the enduring memory of 9/11.

The year 2020 will join those years. We will never forget it. It was a year of unimaginable suffering, of lives lived as we had never imagined them, and in the end of a victory that will resonate for decades to come.

It is, of course, impossible to look back on 2020 and not think of the catastrophe of COVID-19, and of the administration’s criminal mishandling of it. The scale of the human tragedy has been unimaginable, and the economic aftershocks have themselves been knee-buckling. But amid all this, we should not lose sight of the fact that perhaps the most consequential story of the year, especially in political terms, is that in 2020 the American people came face to face with despotism, with the end of our democracy, and they rejected it.

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