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From politics to the pandemic: How women changed the course of 2020 – NBC News

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As 2020 goes down in history, it will be remembered for more than just the year that the coronavirus pandemic changed the world as we know it. The year 2020 will also be remembered for the women from many different walks of life who made a profound impact and great progress, from female politicians and women making strides in corporate America to frontline nurses providing care and relief in these very challenging times.

Dec. 29, 202011:38

“In a year like no other — and truly like no other — I would like to reflect on the triumphs and challenges of women who shattered ceilings, demanded more and paved the way for a brighter year ahead despite all odds,” said Mika Brzezinski, Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host.

In a virtual roundtable interview this month, Brzezinski spoke with Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent and Weekend TODAY co-anchor, Susan Del Percio, senior advisor to The Lincoln Project, Errin Haines, editor-at-large for “The 19th” and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine and MSNBC medical contributor. The women reflected some of these monumental moments for women – especially women of color – and what this means for the future.

Women and the election cycle

In politics, this year was unique in the sense that in the election cycle, women on both sides of the aisle broke records across the country, winning no less than 141 seats in Congress. Furthermore, Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala Harris made strides as the first female, Black, South Asian-American elected to the nation’s second highest office.

RELATED: Inside the movement that swept Republican women into Congress

“It is an extraordinary year,” Haines said, mentioning that many women of color had to continue to fight throughout history to have a voice and be represented. “Women have helped to usher in the most diverse Congress in history,” Haines said. Given the particularly challenging year, it was notable that women were able to pull this off despite this time of suffrage and setback. That said, Haines explained that while women are making great progress in politics, they still have a long way to go. “We know that women still are not represented in line with their demographic numbers in this country,” she said. Haines believes that it will be quite interesting to see how gender factors into policy in the months and years ahead.

Welker added that women winning more seats in Congress and the first female and Black vice president elected sends a message to little girls that they can do this too and have a voice. Now, the world will watch to see what these women will do with their elected offices. Will they address critical issues that are impacting women? Will there be policies that are directly targeted to women to help them get back into the workforce? Will they address issues impacting communities of color that have been disproportionately hit by the Covid-19 pandemic? Welker has confidence that these women in positions of power will pave the way for more milestones as they work to make an impact.

Impact of incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden

Incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden was also celebrated as a woman of 2020, rising above challenges and stereotypes. In Dr. Biden’s case, she was unintentionally part of a controversy brought on by an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that questioned whether she should keep the honorific doctorate title before her name.

RELATED: WATCH: Mika to WSJ, ‘You owe Dr. Jill Biden an apology’

Dr. Biden will be the first first lady to continue her own professional career while in the White House. “Dr. Biden will send a message to so many women, not just young women but to women in their 40s, 50s and beyond that it is OK to keep working and that you are not defined by your spouse,” said Del Percio.

Kristen Welker moderating the last presidential debate

Brzezinski also touched on Welker’s historic moment moderating the last presidential debate on Oct. 22, saying she was “spot on from start to finish.” Welker hoped that other young women and girls who found something inspirational in the debate recognized it as a team effort bolstered by many strong, supportive women. “It was a real sisterhood and helped me to find strength in that moment and ask questions on behalf of the American people,” Welker said.

In 2020, female voters turned up to the polls to make an impact. According to NBC News exit polls, some 91 percent of Black women voted for Joe Biden, thanks in part to leaders like Stacey Abrams and LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund.

“Black women have been working to perfect this democracy, even before they had access to the franchise with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They have been working to bring about a freer and fairer America not only for themselves… but for their communities, this democracy, for this country,” Haines said. “What these Black women know is that the future of the Senate can have an impact on their daily lives, and they vote with that in mind.”

Del Percio nodded to the power of women and in particular, women of color. “This is a force to be reckoned with,” she said.

Top women in the fight against Covid-19

In the battle against Covid-19, women also showed up and made a big difference, especially those in health care. Sandra Lindsay, a Black nurse at a Queens hospital, became the very first person to be vaccinated in the U.S. The critical care nurse wanted to help other women and communities of color who might be hesitant to get vaccinated.

Some 70 percent of the world’s healthcare workers are women, according to the World Health Organization. “In this pandemic, women have been frontline care takers as healthcare workers and at home. Because of their greater numbers as healthcare workers, they also make up 79 percent of healthcare workers with Covid-19,” Dr. Bhadelia said. “I cannot thank my fellow healthcare workers enough for working tirelessly these past months to care for our patients.”

Strides for women in the corporate world

Despite the economic crisis that emerged from the pandemic, this year was also one where diversity of female employees in corporate America improved. “Women are now running more Fortune 500 companies than ever before, and for the first time in 20 years, all S&P 500 boards have at least one woman,” Brzezinski said.

Dec. 9, 202007:06

In celebration of these great milestones, Know Your Value partnered with Forbes for a special project called 50 over 50, to elevate women who have shattered age and gender norms, founding success later in life. Many of these women are also paying it forward to help other women.

RELATED: Nominate a woman for Know Your Value and Forbes’ 50 over 50 list HERE!

While 2020 will be remembered for the trials and tribulations brought on by Covid-19, it also marks the year that women overcame formidable challenges and made positive gains by lifting each other up and setting the stage for a brighter year ahead.

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Donald Trump may not be done disrupting American politics, only this time it could actually end up being an improvement – Salt Lake Tribune

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President Joe Biden set the tone for his new administration last week seeking to reunite a divided country.
“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” he said, “and unity is the path forward and we must meet this moment as the United States of America.”
It was a noble, aspirational inauguration speech and a message this divided country needed to hear. But it won’t be easy, not in a political environment where for years Americans have been pushed into clans and fed resentment and mistrust.
Sen. Ben Sasse from Nebraska wrote a piece in The Atlantic last week about the reckoning the Republican Party is facing and the soul-searching and house-cleaning that needs to take place to set it in the right direction.
This assumes the Republican Party can be salvaged. It may be too late for that, and there’s another guy who shares that view: Recently unemployed Florida man Donald Trump.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Trump had discussed creating a new political party — the Patriot Party — as a refuge for his true believers.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Gehrke.

Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as he’s out of office he comes up with an idea that makes sense. I say that not because it might blow up the Republican Party. I say it because the two-party system is the worst feature of modern American politics.
Our government is so hopelessly dysfunctional that facing a crisis of historic proportions, it took months to pass a COVID relief bill — and that’s just one example. But the larger problem is that the current party structure isn’t about governing at all. It’s about power and holding onto that power by creating a big enough tent.
It has reached a point, however, that in this push to be everything to everybody, the parties have lost any philosophical cohesion.
In what world can you have a Republican Party going forward that includes both Mitt Romney and the people who rampaged through the Capitol looking to take members of Congress hostage? And how does the average Republican feel represented by that party?
The Democrats have an identity crisis of their own, trying to hold together people like Ben McAdams and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.
Trying to find a way for everyone to fit means nobody fits well, like Cinderella’s stepsisters trying to cram their feet into ill-fitting slippers. It makes sense that nearly a third of Utah voters choose to not affiliate with either party. That number will continue to grow.
That’s because, as humans, we all have different experiences that inform different world views and beliefs. Things aren’t black-and-white, purely Democratic or Republican.
Maybe you are pro-life but believe in a liberal immigration policy and are a dyed-in-the-wool union member. Or you are devoutly religious, love your guns and think the threat of climate change is dire and everyone deserves a guaranteed income. Or you’re a Black entrepreneur who opposes government regulation but believes Black Lives Matter and police should stop shooting people.
None of that matters in our current system. Donkey or elephant, blue or red — those are your choices. Don’t like it? Feel free to throw away your vote.
If your grocery store gave you two choices of toilet paper — both of them bad, like mesh vs. extra coarse — you’d probably find another store, but this is the only store we have.
Hillary Stirling, the newly minted chairwoman of the United Utah Party would like to give people more choices. Both nationally and in Utah, she said, the two major party agendas are driven by the fringes.
“The people on the extremes are the people who are most active, most interested in politics, so they’re the ones who show up and are most vocal,” she said. That leaves those in the middle dissatisfied with their voices, but the United Utah Party has struggled, like all third-parties, to make much headway.
The inevitable result of these two combatant parties trying to remain in power is we end up with pure bloodsport. The incentives are on obstruction and demonization, not collaboration and compromise. It partly explains why we’ve seen the fierce polarization — fueled by media and online outlets that drive the wedge deeper, which in turn are exploited by opportunistic, ambitious politicians.
We’ve seen other parties rise and fade and we have a handful of third parties in place now, but they aren’t viable because the two parties that make the rules have created a system that perpetuates their power. And because they’re the only viable options, they get all the money.
Without money, minor parties can’t put their candidates in front of people, they can’t get on the ballot, they can’t get into the debates, they can’t win — and when they can’t win donors won’t give money.
“Especially the way our current system is set up, it’s either/or. The question that is currently asked is: Who do you want out of these two people?” Stirling said. “There are better ways to do it, so let’s try those better ways.”
Those better ways, though, will take serious structural changes like public campaign financing, ranked-choice voting or electing members of Congress proportionately, rather than from districts gerrymandered to benefit one party or the other.
The other possibility is the rise of a viable third, and maybe fourth, parties, something Theodore Roosevelt’s popularity couldn’t do and that Ross Perot’s money couldn’t do. It’s possible Trump could use both money and a cult-like following to disrupt the two-party system.
Or, perhaps, Biden is right and, despite a track record to the contrary, Democrats and Republicans can come together and chart a new course and we don’t need major reforms to our system. I hope he is right.
Given our recent history, however, it seems more likely that we’ll see more of the same, with the two parties, left to their own self-serving devices, continuing to pull Americans further and further apart until there is a rift that can’t be healed.

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Politics Chat: Biden To Sign More Executive Orders In First Full Week As President – NPR

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President Biden will begin his first full week in the White House. Many of the executive orders he’s been signing and will sign this week are part of a plan he laid out for his first 10 days.

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Why Biden's vaccine goals are likely too modest and good politics – CNN

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That’s generally in line with other polling (such as last week’s CNN/SSRS survey) that showed that most Americans were displeased with how Donald Trump’s administration handled the coronavirus pandemic.
What’s the point: President Joe Biden’s administration has come under some criticism for its goal to deliver 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine in its first 100 days. Some people believe it is too modest a goal. The Biden administration has pushed back on that claim.
A look at the statistics reveal that it may very well be too modest, but it’s likely good politics.
Let’s start with the basic fact that humans developing multiple Covid-19 vaccines in less than a year was a scientific achievement for the ages.
The Trump administration then completely botched the expectations game on the vaccine rollout. They set an initial goal of getting 20 million vaccine doses into the arms of Americans by the end of 2020.
As I noted last week, we simply didn’t come close to reaching that milestone in December.
We’re very likely to hit 20 million total doses administered? in the next few days, however, as more than 19 million doses have been administered as of early Friday.
Overall, as Biden White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointed out, “less than 500,000 shots a day” were administered during Trump’s time in office once the first shots were given on December 14.
It’s a true statement, but I must admit that it feels like it doesn’t encapsulate all the facts. You can’t just look at the entirety of the Trump run to determine whether Biden’s setting a low goal.
After all, it takes time for the states and the federal government to figure out how to coordinate with each other and themselves to distribute the vaccines.
Moreover, a number of states were very strict with who could get the vaccines at first. There were reports of doses getting thrown out.
States have since opened up the eligibility. Combined with more practice in actually delivering the vaccine, the number of people getting doses each state has gone up dramatically.
Since January 13, we have averaged greater than 800,000 doses administered every day. On three days since that date, we’ve had more than a million people get the vaccine. This includes on Friday, when the CDC reported an increase of more than 1.5 million doses administered from the day before.
We’ve done a better job of administering the doses we have than we used to. We used to only administer less than a third of the doses distributed. Only once before January 12 had we administered more than 33%. It’s been above that every day since. In fact, it’s been greater than 45% each of the last four days reported.
This is before the Biden administration has had any real opportunity to change anything from the Trump administration.
Of course, the past isn’t always prologue. We could run out of vaccines, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point.
We know that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have pledged to deliver 200 million doses of their vaccine combined in the first quarter of this year (i.e. through March). This doesn’t even count the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which, if approved, could deliver tens of millions more doses by the beginning of April.
The bottom line is that it’s very easy to see how the Biden administration hits 100 million doses in 100 days. We’re basically already doing it, and we should have the doses available to keep doing it.
Indeed, America may end up doing considerably better than 100 million doses in 100 days.
Now, it’s possible that things go awry in vaccine production or distribution. That’s why it’s usually best to keep expectations low.
Biden’s team, if anything, wants to do the exact opposite of what Trump did. They don’t want to set a bar that can easily prove impossible to beat. They want a bar that can be met and can potentially be exceeded.
In other words, they may end up under-promising and over-delivering.
Usually, voters reward politicians who do what Biden’s team could do. They clearly punished Trump for the opposite.
To be clear, Americans expect Biden to fulfill his promise. The vast majority (70%) of Americans told CNN pollsters that the Biden administration is at least somewhat likely to reach its goal of 100 million does in 100 days.
If we don’t, there could be a heavy political price to pay.
Before we bid adieu: The theme song of the week is Scrubs.

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