My friends and I could not pinpoint a singular historic event that has defined our collective imaginations and belief systems. We are too young to remember the impacts of 9/11, only understanding how the world changed through the filter of the American media.
Instead, perhaps we could point to Australia’s first female prime minister? Or maybe America’s first Black president? Or I could talk about the devastating Black Summer that wrecked Australia last year which was immediately followed by the global pandemic, closing our borders the same month we extinguished the last of the fires?
In trying to understand the peak of the alt-right and trace its origins, I end up at the 2016 presidential campaigns. It was widely assumed America’s first Black president would be followed by their first female president. At high school on the day of the elections, I remember a relative calm during the first period. Everyone had an eye on the electoral map out of curiosity, only for a general anxiety to set in by lunch when Trump had taken several swing states. By home time, Trump’s success was inevitable. In the evening, we simply awaited the formalities.
So, when the 2020 American presidential campaign began, I was no longer sure of the Democrats’ victory. Even when Biden’s presidency was officially announced, general apprehension remained about the handover and whether Trump would concede defeat. These fears would manifest in the Capitol Hill insurrection.