The times, are they a-changing?
The battle for the US presidency was billed as an inflection point, a moment of choice between two radically different futures. The election itself on 3rd November 2020 did not immediately provide this defining moment of clarity, however. Its loser, Donald Trump, and his allies launched more than 60 separate lawsuits disputing the result and it was not until mid-December that the outcome was finally placed beyond doubt.
It remains to be seen whether Joe Biden’s elevation to the leadership of the free world will be an era-defining event, or whether his term in office will sink into a four-year bout of inertia and partisan squabbling. But now the dust has settled on Trump’s ill-tempered time in the White House we can finally take stock of what his presidency meant – turn to p050 for our account of this singularly combative commander-in-chief.
The last months of 2020 did offer one clear turning point for humanity – the announcement on 2nd December that the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine had been approved for use (see p092). Just six days later, in Coventry, 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive the jab as part of a mass vaccination programme. At the end of a year defined by the worst pandemic in a century, we could at last glimpse a way out of the morass.
There were other potentially game-changing moments in this period too – the conclusion of the first drone war (p066), a further lurch to illiberalism in the world’s biggest democracy (p098) and the launch of a company that aims to clean up the multi-billion-dollar diamond industry (p030). As always, here at Delayed Gratification we’ve used the benefit of our Slow Journalism perspective to report on these tectonic shifts – and to try bring a baffling world into clearer focus.
We hope you enjoy the issue!
Rob and Marcus, editors
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