January: A Recap


2020 left many of us feeling tired, discouraged, and like we survived thousands of years between January 1st and December 31st. We counted down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, hoping things would get better, but it has been a whirlwind ever since. So what actually happened, in straightforward terms, just in January? Let’s take it one Wednesday at a time.

January 6: A Deadly Insurrection at the US Capitol

Stephen Voss for POLITICO

Like many people, I woke up on Wednesday morning after staying up late, waiting for the Georgia Senate runoff results. But that wasn’t the only thing happening on that Wednesday- Congress was also set to meet to certify the 2020 election results and cement Joe Biden as our next President. Several Republicans were prepared to object to some of the states’ electoral college votes, such as Arizona and Pennsylvania, on false election fraud claims. 

Former President Donald Trump also hosted a rally–with the primary mission to “Save America”–near the White House, bringing thousands of his angry supporters to Washington D.C. At this rally, he told the crowd, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women,” and continued to lead them on by saying, “We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

When his supporters marched to the Capitol carrying Confederate and Make America Great Again flags, they climbed the walls around the building and onto the platforms that had been set up for Biden’s inauguration, which was due to take place two weeks later. The rioters broke the police line and were able to gather inside the Capitol building and walk around on the Senate floor, where they were discussing the objection to Arizona’s electoral college votes only minutes prior. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle were targeted, with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealing on an Instagram Live that she thought she might die. Former Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were among those who were particularly targeted, with the rioters yelling “Hang Mike Pence” as they made their way into the Capitol.

January 6th, 2021, will go down in history as one of the scariest days for our country in recent history, and as the first time the Capitol has been sieged since the War of 1812 when it was breached by the British. It was also the first time the Confederate flag was flown inside the Capitol building, keeping in mind that the Confederate soldiers could only dream of getting close to the nation’s capital. Five people died from injuries sustained during the insurrection, and two other Capitol police officers took their own lives after the event. Among those who died was a Capitol police officer named Brian Sicknick, who is currently lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

January 13: the House impeaches Donald Trump

Alex Brandon/AP

On January 13th, 2021, the House of Representatives adopted one article of impeachment against Donald Trump. You can read the article of impeachment below.


The article was adopted by a vote of 232-197, with most Congress members voting along party lines. Impeachment by the House does not remove a President from office. Still, it was a way to show the country that they would not sit idly by after the President incited a murderous mob on members of Congress and the Vice President. The Former President is the only President to have been impeached twice, after being impeached last January by the House. 

The Senate is set to begin impeachment proceedings on February 9th.

January 20: The Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Erin Schaff/Pool via Reuters

President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn in on the steps of the Capitol on January 20th, 2021. You can read more about the Inauguration here.

Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman, the first woman of South Asian descent, and the first Black woman to become Vice President. This is historic for young people everywhere, and as Harris said in her victory speech on November 7th, “while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”

After being sworn into office, Vice President Harris then headed to the Senate floor to swear in Senators Warnock, Ossoff, and Padilla. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and is Georgia’s first Black Senator. He is also the first Black Democratic Senator to be elected to represent a state that was once part of the Confederacy. Senator Jon Ossoff is Georgia’s first Jewish Senator and is the first millennial to be elected to the Senate from any state. The Governor of California appointed Senator Alex Padilla to fill the seat that Vice President Harris had left vacant. He is the first Mexican-American and first Hispanic Senator from California. One downside to his appointment is the fact that it leaves the Senate without any Black women currently serving.

January 27: GameStop and the Stock Market

I’m sure people have heard about the wacky Stock Market situation, but it is a difficult subject to understand, so I’ll try my best to explain it in the most straightforward language possible.

There is a hedge fund that was shorting GameStop’s stock, meaning they were betting on the stock to go down. When these hedge funds short a stock, they sell the stock, hope that the stock goes down, and then buy it- it’s the opposite of what usually happens when people buy stock. I can break it down by giving an example of doing this practice in real life:

Cindy has a blue dress, and I ask Cindy, “can I borrow your dress for the Homecoming dance?” Cindy gives me this dress, expecting to get it back, but instead, I take it to a consignment store. I then sell the dress for $100 because I wanted to make some money. A couple of months later, Cindy says to me, “Hey Maggie, do you still have my blue dress?” Then I can go back to the consignment store and buy Cindy’s dress back, but since it’s been a while, the value has gone down to $60. That means that I can buy her dress for $60 and still keep $40 for myself. I made money because I was betting on the price of the dress going down, just like the hedge funds were doing with GameStop’s stock.

Many people with lots of money put their assets into these hedge funds and can make billions of dollars when dying stocks decrease in value. 

Users on Reddit found out about the hedge fund shorting GameStop’s stock and decided to start buying stock in hopes of making the hedge funds lose money- and also to create a sort of meme out of a company like GameStop that is failing due to a shift to more accessible online gaming. When the stock started climbing, it became more expensive for the hedge funds to hold onto their bets. At some point, when it got way too expensive, they were forced to buy back the stocks. 

Here’s where it gets interesting- since these hedge funds are buying stocks, the price keeps going up, so it’s more expensive for the other hedge funds to buy back the stocks they shorted. The stocks kept going up as more and more hedge funds realized it was too expensive for them to stick with their bets. It’s a cycle called a “short squeeze” that allows these “normal people” to get super rich super quick. 

So then we can go back to my dress analogy:

Let’s say I sell Cindy’s dress for $100, and when I go back to buy it a couple of months later, it’s now $150. I just lost $50. That’s what happened to these hedge funds, but on a much larger scale, because of a group of people on Reddit.