2021 in review: 5 moments that changed the face of American politics

2021 in review: 5 moments that changed the face of American politics
The Jan 6 insurrection (Win McNamee), Joe Biden's inauguration (Alex Brandon-Pool), Withdrawal from Afghanistan (UK MoD), and Andrew Cuomo (Seth Wenig-Pool) all via Getty Images

2021 hasn't been an easy year, especially for American politics. Fuelled by Donald Trump's lies of a stolen election, the gap between the Republican and Democratic parties has only widened much further. We've also seen cracks emerge in both parties, creating chaos all over the country. But it's not all been bad, there have also been some really good moments to celebrate as well. 

There are scores of big moments that have defined American politics this year, such as the booting of Liz Cheney from Republican leadership, or the Democratic win of Georiga's two Senate seats. And of course, there's also the ongoing battle around masks and vaccine mandates, with no clear winner even as we head into year three of the Covid-19 pandemic. But, there have been some far bigger, and more impactful moments that will no doubt define 2021. 


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Here's a look at just five of the most iconic moments that changed American politics in 2021. 

#1: The siege of the US Capitol

Well before January 6, Donald Trump lied and ranted about the election being stolen, but the events of the day are now etched in history as the first coup attempt in modern American history. As scores of Trump supporters breached the Capitol, Congressmembers were forced to take shelter, as then-Vice President Mike Pence was whisked away. Now, months later, over 200 have been charged, while the House attempts to understand the full scale and size of the event. It may take many more months to uncover what exactly happened on January 6, and how it was orchestrated, but there's no doubt, it wasn't without planning from those in power as documents have revealed. 

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

#2: GOP ups its war on abortion

Abortion has always been a thorny issue in the US, with numerous deep Red states attempting to outlaw it for decades. In 2021, they were handed a blueprint to do so by Texas, with Governor Gregg Abbott passing a new template for the GOP's war. Texas SB 8 undermined Roe v Wade for the first time in American history, creating a precedent that several other states are now following, despite no clear standing of its legality. The Supreme Court is currently debating the law, but already its effects are being felt as states rush to pass their own versions of SB8, which lower courts have cleared for now. 

#3: America's never-ending war finally ends

Before Joe Biden, Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump promised to end America's occupation of Afghanistan, but never really did. Biden made history by finally bringing back the troops on August 31, 2021. It wasn't without consequences though, as the move let the Taliban once again take control of the nation, while the hurried withdrawal left behind many Americans and Afghan allies. The effects are likely to be felt for years to come, but an end to the occupation means that Biden is the first president in decades to not oversee a conflict. It also created a new chapter for Afghanistan, a country now mired deeply in poverty, chaos, and violence without anyone to help. 

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue boards a C-17 at Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 30, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan becoming the last US soldier to leave the country (U.S. Central Command via Getty Images)

#4: The end of the Cuomo dynasty

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called time on his political career after weeks of pressure, emerging from a sexual harassment scandal. Before he stepped down on August 24, 2021, Cuomo oversaw some of New York's most iconic battles, from the Covid-19 pandemic to same-sex marriage. But, the good work he did to keep New Yorkers abreast of the pandemic in 2020 was quickly undone by his nursing home scandal and sexual harassment scandal. The end of his governorship also brought down the curtain on the Cuomo dynasty, with brother Chris Cuomo being booted from CNN for his role in the scandal.

#5: We need better infrastructure agrees Congress

While the Democrats controlled the House and the presidency, Mitch McConnell's tight control of the US Senate meant it was highly unlikely Biden could pass any of his planned initiatives. However, in a shocking turn of events, McConnell conceded just enough to let Democrats pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act with President Biden's signature in November. With a price tag of over $1 trillion, the bill will help America's ailing road, rail, water, power, and internet infrastructure get a much-needed boost, along with vital investments to green and eco-friendly initiatives. 

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