A Decade in the Rear View Mirror: What Now?


Image from Pixabay

Hayden Kim, Opinion's editor

Each decade in the modern era has had a defining characteristic. The 1990s had the birth of the internet and a unique sound to its pop music. The 2000s had the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the maturation of the internet, and the government’s “War on Terror”. But the 2010s seem to lack any of those defining features. However, the fact the 2010s lack those features almost becomes its most defining characteristic. If I were to define the decade in one sentence, it  would be, “Economic recovery, political confusion, and general chaos.” 

During the 2010s, the United States managed to retain its position as a world power but faced fierce competition from the rising economy of China. The two US presidents during this time, President Barack Obama (2008 to 2016), President Donald Trump (2016 to present), saw global warming become a serious political and scientific issue and a major point of contention.  With the proliferation of the internet and society’s continued reliance on it meant that governments and corporations exploited their power over this new system. However, Edward Snowden and other whistle-blowers have exposed this and set a trend of decreased internet centralization in motion.

2010 began with mankind reaching new heights (literally) with the construction of the Burj Khalifa, a “modern marvel” and currently the tallest man-made structure in the world, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. That year also saw President Obama start his second term as president and the United States’ economy was still recovering from the financial crisis and housing market crash of 2008. In March of 2010, President Obama signed the now controversial “Affordable Care Act”, also known as “Obamacare”, into law. The “Affordable Care Act” aimed to overhaul the healthcare system and allowed many more people to secure health insurance and get the healthcare they needed. Another key event was the issue of “Net Neutrality”. The FCC signed more “Net Neutrality” laws to ensure that network providers didn’t discriminate against users based on content, website, platform, or application they used.

The decade ended this past year, in 2019 and may well be best defined as a “dumpster fire set in a nuclear wasteland”. With the year barely beginning, President Donald Trump already engulfed the entire nation in a debate over his “border wall” immigration policies which led to the longest US government shutdown in history at the end of 2018. During this whole time, the US and China faced off in the US-China Trade War, which, like President Trump’s controversial policies, persisted into 2020. 

The 2010s saw President Obama enter or reinforce many international treaties, like the Iranian Nuclear Deal and the Paris Climate Accords, and President Trump leave many of those treaties which spark international backlash and domestic opposition. Heading into 2020, President Trump has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, the Iranian Nuclear Deal, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF treaty), and many others. President Trump has also found himself impeached over his “quid pro quo” dealings with the Ukrainian government. 

When looking ahead into 2020, we can only hope for this country to regain its identity and once again rise to the occasion rather than overlook its own flaws and constantly lie and cheat its way to financial success. This coming decade will be a telltale sign for our future position in world politics. Will the United States crumble under its own pressure or truthfully run a self-diagnosis and work to fix its flaws?