In American history, there is a decade of immense turmoil and change per century: the 1770's and the Revolution, the 1860's and the Rebellion, and the 1960's and the Counterculture. At the halfway point, it seems as though the 2010's are a shoo-in for the "Most F**ked Up Decade of the Century" award.
Between the election of the first African-American president, the worst recession since the Great Depression, increasing rates of mass shootings, threats of terrorism, and actual terror attacks, the decade was essentially doomed from the start.
For one thing, the Recession of 2008 created a growing feeling of resentment from the American populous. That may seem like a no-brainer, but people became stressed out, skeptical, and discontent with the status quo. While this also happened during the Great Depression, people didn't have access to the internet. When the housing bubble burst and none of the financial elite responsible were punished, the fire was officially lit. People began to feel disenfranchised. People lost faith in their government and with the way things had always been. Thus, the Tea Party began.
While the actual Tea Party movement only lasted from 2010 to about 2012, its effects were massive. Tea Partyism was a grassroots movement spawned by dissatisfaction, backed by fundamentalism and conservatism, and followed by a schism in the GOP.
Tea Partiers were exceptionally vocal advocates for pro-guns, anti-abortion, pro-war, and anti-gay agendas. They attacked those they disagreed with like the Velociraptors from Jurassic Park. They tore at abortion clinics, they clawed desperately at the Defense of Marriage, and they snarled at any minority group in sight, blaming them for the economic troubles when it was truly the fault of billionaires.
The party moved sharply to the right, and fiscally conservative Republicans were ostracized. They were seen as inept and disinterested in the everyday citizen's woes. The Libertarians living in the GOP ran off and their individual party grew. The GOP became overtaken with religious fervor. Conservatives had long ago taken control of the Republican party, back in the 1976 election, but they did so with pragmatism. A Tea Partier like Ted Cruz pales in comparison to Ronald Reagan. Say what you will about the man, he was an effective leader and an emblem of pragmatism. Cruz, however, stumbled his way through most anything he did.
The decade early on was swarmed with gun violence and terrorism: Sandy Hook, Aurora, Boston Marathon bombing, and the instability of the Middle East after Arab Spring and the rise of the Islamic State. This led to concerns about gun laws and immigration issues.
With the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American, by a neighborhood watchman, the country began to splinter even more on the issue of race. Tensions were heightened when the killer was acquitted. Stories kept popping up of young African American males being gunned down by officers. A new Civil Rights Movement was born from the ashes of Fergusson, Missouri. The Black Lives Matter Movement has taken over social media and severely heightened the civil unrest. The Tea Partiers were quick to defend the cops, the liberals were quick to defend the victims, and the facts were often hard to make out. But it became increasingly clear that officers were shooting to kill when they saw the slightest threat.
As the Tea Partiers blasted abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood, we entered the Third Wave of Feminism. Women began fighting for equal pay. They lined up in phalanx formation against rapists and catcallers and they fought vigorously for their rights to do with their bodies what they please. Many conservatives wished to keep the spirit of the 1950's alive and force women to be complacent with men forcing themselves upon them.
With so much unrest, the Democrats clung to normalcy and rallied behind Obama and his policies for a long time. That is, they did until it was time to choose his replacement. Hillary Clinton seemed like the clear option. She held the exact same values, she had worked closely with him, and she would clearly maintain the status quo. Enter, Bernie Sanders: a 76-year-old Democratic Socialist from Vermont who inspired millions of people with his message. Sanders preached that the economic crash was the fault of the billionaires, he preached that the elite has too much power, he preached about women's rights, gay rights, and offering family leave, college tuition, and higher wages for the middle class. This pushed the Democrats far to the left, leaving many moderates in the cold. Bernie Sanders did not break out and become the nominee for president, but he forced Clinton to the left and to fight for the people, sending a strong message to the billionaires that their control on politics was slipping.
So, here we are. With the collapse of the Republican Party, we are faced with an orange xenophobic tyrant who wishes to close the borders and take our nation to war socially economically and physically. We have a nation divided on Trump or Hillary, Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter, Populism or Conservatism, and we only just limped out of the Recession. We have to worry about ISIS, mass shooters, police brutality, income inequality, severe effects of climate change, and corruption all at once and on a massive scale.
This is one of the scariest decades in history. The entire Middle East revolting, the European Union on the brink of collapse, and the United States in shambles. We cannot give in to this fear. If we give in to fear, if we follow the message that this our troubles are the faults of Mexicans, Muslims, and minorities, then we will fall into World War III. If we let ourselves believe that the world is falling apart, then it will fall apart.
As we can see, many of the issues we face are the result of conservatism, a refusal to move forward and progress into a new society. But our problems actually is that those who wish to move forward are butting heads with those who don't. No one is compromising, only fighting. Now one is leading us to a solution, only more chaos. The American people and the people of the world are sick of the same old story. They want change, and they'll get it in one of two ways.
United States citizens elect Donald Trump. Mexican Americans are deported, millions flee north to Canada and NAFTA disintegrates. Trump, as a foreign leader, urges more European nations to leave the EU and the one thing keeping Europe from blowing itself apart yet again crumbles to dust. Bombs and war crimes begin to fall upon the Middle East and ISIS grows stronger as a result. Terrorism rises across the Western World, and chaos ensues. President Trump begins a trade war with China and the global economy officially goes into a tailspin as all economic alliances fall apart. Unrest in America becomes so strong that a Rebellion breaks out and millions are killed.
Hillary Clinton is elected, and she goes to work keeping the EU intact. Her foreign policy is exquisite and she prevents devastation. At home, she is strong on women's rights and helps the middle-class American family, but does nothing to solve the income inequality in this country by herself. She does not take a fierce approach to ending gun violence or police killings by herself, only with words.
However, what is known of Hillary is that she is easily swayed by public opinion. She won't solve the problems at home on her own. She needs the pressure from us. She needs us to elect officials and congressmen who believe in progress. She needs us to unify and quit bickering and tell her what we, the nation wants. If we do that, she will follow suit.
Our future is no longer in the hands of the elite. Our destiny is no longer to be determined by money. The fate of the world and of our nation rides on the people's ability to speak out against injustice, to educate those who have been denied knowledge, and to become a nation of the people, for the people.