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Two-thousand and twenty is a year most Americans are in a hurry to forget. From a chaotic political atmosphere to uncontrolled riots and violence across the country, to a pandemic that revealed the worst instincts in our politicians, the year seemed to resemble a horror-house of our worst fears.

Because of all we’ve been through, most people would just as soon get on with ending this year of chaos, mobs, and quarantines and get on with the business of believing 2021 will be better. It has to be better, right?

If we pause, however, we’ll notice 2020 can be seen as a model of Americans’ passionate fight to overcome the adversity they’ve faced. Yes, it’s understandably easy to feel helpless and focus on the death counts and infection rates as they glare out at us on the news. It’s easy to point at the cities destroyed by mob violence and forget about the human cost after the cable news outlets leave. It’s easy to shrug our shoulders in disregard as communities are divested by floods, fires, and storms.

Indeed, the government has in some way superseded our responsibility to each other on a basic, human level. And now we see the most egregious violation of a government’s responsibility in its disregard for its citizens’ freedom. After government forced people to give up their livelihoods, these same “public servants” betrayed the loyalty and trust of the very people they stole it from.

In 2020, naked corruption and the practice of unabashedly prioritizing lobbyists and unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats over the needs of desperate Americans were exposed. The COVID-19 relief bill approved by Congress this week is an insult to those who continue to suffer — it’s a relief bill to help Americans in the same sense as giving a drowning man a brick.

Yet, just because I have little faith in government to right this massive wrong (considering public approval for Congress sits at 13 percent, I’m not alone) doesn’t mean I don’t have faith in my fellow Americans.

When FEMA is slow to respond to natural disasters, civilian groups formed to stand in the gaps. The Cajun Navy, an informal group of private boat owners, volunteer in search and rescue efforts in a hurricane-lashed Louisiana this year. Since entering the public sphere in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the group is credited with rescuing thousands of people stranded in dangerous waters.

Team Rubicon is another assistance group, founded by U.S. Marines William McNulty and Jacob Wood. The nongovernmental organization employs veterans and first responders to help disaster victims while maintaining a sense of service in the people who comprise the organization.

Earlier this year, they joined disaster relief efforts in Louisiana and are now manning the front lines of COVID-19 in under-staffed communities. On Dec. 1, members of the team are providing emergency medical aid to the Navajo Nation, where COVID-19 cases increased by an astounding 484 percent in November.

Even here in Minneapolis, communities took action where government leaders displayed nothing but cowardice and dithering. After the death of George Floyd and the destruction that ravaged the city, communities gathered to form watch groups. Neighbors helped each other clear the streets and clean the debris.

I’ve helped with People and Pets Together, a local food shelf for pets. It offers free pet food and veterinary care. Community organizations such as A Mother’s Love Initiative took to the streets to deescalate street violence and mentor young people away from criminal activity, while demanding more police protection from a city council and mayor more interested in satisfying leftist vanity projects than the safety of their constituents.

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On a national level, charities and fundraisers started by individuals continue to put the government’s cumbersome, inept efforts to shame. In New York City, Kosher19 was started to link hospital staff working the COVID-19 frontlines with kosher meals, keeping nurses and physicians fed and restaurants in business. Simone Policano co-founded Invisible Hands, a nonprofit that organizes volunteers to deliver groceries to the elderly and disabled during the pandemic.

Usually mocked for his platinum-spiked hairstyle and bombastic demeanor, Guy Fieri has been a staunch defender and supporter of the restaurant business nationwide. Since he started his Restaurant Employee Relief Fund charity, Fieri has raised more than $21.5 million. Chef Andrew Gruel’s GoFundMe site raises money for a similar cause, with donations pouring in from Americans all over the country. Not to be outdone, in one week, Barstool Sport’s founder Dave Portnoy’s Barstool Fund raised $2 million to save small businesses.

It’s a testament that people would set aside their celebrity and use their platforms to help organize such an amazing display of charitable spirit. In his indispensable work “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote eloquently about the grassroots, philanthropic endeavors undertaken by so many Americans — efforts that still survive even in these dark times.

In the United States, as soon as several inhabitants have taken an opinion or an idea they wish to promote in society, they seek each other out and unite together once they have made contact. From that moment, they are no longer isolated but have become a power seen from afar whose words are heeded.

2021 will be better. But I also think it is important that we use these last days of 2020 to be thankful that the enduring spirit of giving is alive and well in America.

Year after year we continue to prove, whether amid a natural disaster, an unjust wrong, or political catastrophe, that Americans reach out to their countrymen when needs arise. Our collective sense of connectedness doesn’t allow us to just look away.

Instead of waiting for a cumbersome, regulation-riddled government overflowing with bureaucrats who can’t buy a pack of screws without a committee vote, we get it done ourselves. After all the tirades and trials of 2020, America is still a force for good and a beacon of hope for all of humanity.

When we gather together to ring in the new year with friends and family, let us bow our heads and be thankful for the sacrifices of those whose seats sit empty, and grateful for the new ones we welcome. 2020 will come to an end, but let us never let go of the kindness, strength, and generosity that helped us through it.

Ms. Stocker is a writer living in Minneapolis



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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