We reconvened on Sunday, Jan. 10th to discuss the last few months. As you might expect, we covered a massive expanse of recent stories and events. We particularly focused on the Senate runoff election in Georgia, the Jan. 6th Storming of the Capitol, Trump’s future in politics, the start of Biden’s presidency, imminent legislation now that the Democrats control both the executive and legislative branches, $2000 stimulus checks, marijuana legalization, new Covid-19 strains, the two main Covid vaccines, and our overall thoughts and expectations for 2021.

A few things to look out for:

-We agreed that the Georgia runoff election is one of the most consequential elections in modern history—and that it is a huge step for the Democrats in terms of getting legislation and other policies past GOP opposition now that Biden and co. control both the executive and legislative branches of the United States. Brandon laments the fact that the balance of power is currently lob-sided, but Luke appreciates it because he is fed up with Congress failing due to produce meaningful legislation due to “bipartisan gridlock.”

-We agreed that the Storming of the Capitol on January 6th was a despicable case of domestic terrorism that will go down in history as a terrible, infamous day. The extent to which Trump is complicit in inciting the riots is something we discussed for a while. Brandon notes that Trump didn’t explicitly call for any violence in his speech that morning or in his general rhetoric (though he adds that Trump could’ve done more to prevent it). He also notes that the majority of protestors who were simply there to hear Trump were peaceful. Luke offers that even if Trump didn’t explicitly call for a coup of the government or anything of that nature, he “got what he deserved” after trying to hijack and overturn our entire election process without evidence. And though he agrees with Brandon that many of the protestors were peaceful, he implores society to not have double standards. In other words, you can’t reinforce the narrative that “we can’t judge them by the violent minority when most protestors were peaceful” if you dismiss the MILLIONS of peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors due to a fringe minority of looters.

-As for the actual events planned for January 6th, we were sufficiently impressed with how Pence conducted himself. Luke also admired that some GOP officials, like Lindsey Graham and Kelly Loeffler, withdrew their objections to the official counting of certain states’ Electoral College votes in light of the horrific events that had just transpired. As for Trump, we agreed that this was a particularly devastating blow to his legacy—given that despite an extremely controversial first 3.5 years in office, he recently surprised progressives like Luke with some good decisions: like pulling us out of unnecessary foreign conflicts (like our role in Somalia), adopting a tougher stance on China, and campaigning for $2,000 stimulus checks. Then again, what happened on Jan. 6th does feel like a very poetic ending to the Greek Epic that was Donald Trump’s presidency.

-We sparred over states rights. Brandon argued that issues like how and to whom we should distribute stimulus checks should be up to the states (which would ostensibly be more efficient and save money). Luke believes that the states’ rights movement is rendered obsolete by the exponential growth of large-scale systems. He references former Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Hughes, who argued in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. (1937) that “When industries organize themselves on a national scale, making interstate commerce the dominant factor in their activities, how can it be maintained that their labor relations constitute a forbidden field into which Congress may not enter?”

-Brandon further argues that marijuana laws should be determined by the states. But we agreed that it doesn’t matter because the Democrats will federally legalize marijuana soon. The main issue was whether marijuana charges should be expunged from criminal records once it is legal. Brandon says no because marijuana was still illegal when such charges occurred (and thus defendants knowingly broke the law). But Luke says it’s not fair to continue to hold lower-class minorities accountable for “crimes” that rich white people were never held accountable for in the first place. Luke recounts that as someone who coped with severe depression in high school, he never had to worry about getting in any trouble for smoking weed—while people like Derek Harris are sentenced to life in prison over 1 gram of weed. Besides, many users simply can’t afford therapy, a doctor, or prescription meds.

-We both espoused a *slightly optimistic yet cautious* outlook for 2021. Brandon is weary of the Democrats boasting too much power. Luke, meanwhile, implores fellow progressives to not get complacent when it comes to the fight for equality, highlighting that there is still a lot to do when it comes to systemic racism, women’s rights, transgender rights, etc. Sure, it looks like 2021 will be better than 2020 in terms of issues like Covid-19—but we can’t be surprised by anything at this point. Who knows? Perhaps we’re all doomed. All it’d take is a bad pandemic, a solar flare, a meteorite, or even just the decisions of a few powerful humans. Until then, we’ll keep you updated. -Luke