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    2020: The ‘Dumpster Fire’ Year in Review

    By Louise “Lou” Fischer–

    Welcome to 2021. If you said, “2021 will be better; it can’t be any worse,” I blame you for jinxing it, or as my Jewish grandmother would say, “Kinehora!” (Superstition). A lawless autocratic dictator inciting a riot to defile and plunder the greatest symbol of democracy in our country is pretty much the answer to the question of, “How could it be worse?”

    For the past four years, media companies have mused that as bad as Trump is for the country, he’s been “damn good copy” or as they said in the old days, “He sells papers.” While he has demeaned and disrespected journalists, he has also provided huge ratings and profits to TV, print, and internet news organizations. In the post-Trump era, how are 24-hour news channels going to survive without the daily “Trump bump”? What is going to happen to website traffic without the daily assault on the rule of law? How will we get by without the cacophony of content that flowed like Niagara Falls during a flood year? Where are we liberals going to focus our outrage? 

    I’m thrilled to stop covering the “Cheeto-in-Chief.” I plan to write about more substantive topics such as economic indicators (yawn), budget reconciliation (snore), or the International Monetary Fund (zzzzzz) while the rest of the news industry goes back to covering celebrity deaths, crime dramas, sex scandals, and whatever else attracts eyeballs.  

    Journalists tend to focus on the present and predict what might happen next and are not known for looking back; that’s the job for historians. However, 2020 sure packed a wallop, or more appropriately, at least 20 years-worth of eye-raising (or “eye-rolling”) history in only 12 months. 

    So far, January of 2021 has already registered an “11” on the volume knob (if this reference is lost on you, do a web search on This is Spinal Tap). The year started out well; we celebrated the victories of the first African American and the first Jewish senators elected in the State of Georgia, and with it, the holy grail of Democratic control of the Senate with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker.  

    Unfortunately, the next day, a bunch of Trump-loving entitled white men staged their version of “Riot! At the Disco” but without a lightshow and pop punk soundtrack. So, without jinxing our future by calling 2020 the “supreme ruler of the worst awfulness ever,” here’s a look back at some of the biggest “dumpster fire” events.  

    January – In Iowa, the most homogeneous demographic (90.6% white) representing a mere 1% of the county’s population takes a break from eating fried food on a stick and gets first crack at choosing the next president. The Iowa Democratic Party opted to use a “state-of-the-art” app to tabulate votes that crashed so badly it made the 13-hour East Coast blackout of 1965 look like a minor inconvenience. In other news, a man in Wuhan, China, died of a mysterious virus. 

    February – Trump gets impeached, but is acquitted by the majority Republican Senate so he can continue to tell the world not to worry about coronavirus because it is a mild flu and “one day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.” (Quoted Feb. 27, 2020.)

    March & April – The Democratic Party shows its love for old white men and narrows the field to Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Mel Brooks’ 2,000 Year Old Man is thrilled that someone older than him will be president. Wow, this coronavirus stuff is real, the Olympics are postponed, hand sanitizer and toilet paper are more valuable than the Hope Diamond, the term “video chat” is replaced with “Zoom” (the management of Webex and GoToMeeting will forever suffer from “shoulda coulda woulda”), and we wash our hands incessantly, but stop taking showers or putting on pants for work. 

    May – Red and blue states argue about wearing masks and opening the economy, and Trump withdraws the United States from the World Health Organization in the middle of the worst global pandemic in over 100 years because he knows more about “this coronavirus stuff” than anyone. People are rightfully horrified by the murder of George Floyd; the lack of justice and obvious show of police force and inequality toward the Black community sparks protests all over the country.  

    June – To prove that he wasn’t hiding out in a bunker, Trump breaks up a peaceful protest to hold up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church because Ivanka tricked him into thinking it was a copy of The Art of the Deal. In happy news, only 6,200 people show up for Trump’s MAGA super-spreader rally in Tulsa instead of the “millions” that were expected. 

    July – Trump sidelines the Centers for Disease Control by taking away responsibility for coronavirus data collection because having an outside, unbiased, science-based agency in charge of life-and-death that doesn’t answer directly to the president makes it harder to lie to the country. Major League Baseball returns, but no one notices other than the diehard fans who pay for selfie cardboard cutouts to be placed in the stands.

    August – California bursts into flames, public-safety-power-shutoffs by PG&E send the state back to the Stone Age, and Trump kneecaps the U.S. Postal Service. Why? “The better to sabotage mail-in voting, my dear.”

    September – The world sat shivah over the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg while Trump appointed her complete opposite to the Supreme Court. The New York Times has the scoop of the century; tax records show the President is not a successful businessman in real life and was only playing one on television. Claude Rains, who played Captain Renault in Casablanca, comes back from the grave to declare, “I am shocked, shocked.”

    October – COVID-19 hits the Oval Office and infects Trump, his wife, son, and about 25 other people in his orbit. Journalists, celebrities, and anyone with a social media account lie through their teeth and send “get well” wishes to the President and his family because it would be in poor taste to say things like, “You reap what you sow,” or, “Divine justice.” A fly lands on VP Pence’s head during the debate and the internet explodes.    

    November – In the presidential election, 71 million people voted for Trump, so for fans of literature, there’s your foreshadowing of doom. Switching from the “dumpster fire” theme of this article so we can have one happy moment: after four days of nail-biting and over-indulgence of leftover Halloween candy, Joe Biden is declared the winner and people literally go dancing in the streets.

    December – In the “good news, bad news” department, the COVID-19 vaccines were released but the federal government didn’t order enough and the people in charge of distribution are so incompetent that unless you work in a hospital, you won’t be getting one until the Jewish babies born today are studying for their bar or bat mitzvah.  

    Thankfully, in six days we will replace the unhinged, deranged nihilist in the White House and “kinehora” keeps me from jinxing it, so all I’ll say is, “Welcome, Joe & Dr. Jill and Kamala & Doug. We’re so happy to see you.”

    Louise (Lou) Fischer is a Former Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and has served as an appointed and elected Delegate for the State Democratic Party. She is a proud graduate of the Emerge California Women’s Democratic Leadership program, was a San Francisco Commissioner, and has served in leadership positions in multiple nonprofit and community-based organizations.

    Published on January 14, 2021