Tim Anaya, Senior Director of Communications and PRI’s Sacramento Office
Winner: Amanda Gorman – At the risk of a social media backlash, I will admit that I was not a big fan of the first National Young Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s poem at the Biden inaugural this week. Poetry slams just aren’t my thing. However, there’s no disputing that she Amanda is a star in the making. Oprah tweeted at her and sent her a caged bird pin to officially link her with past inaugural poet, the late Dr. Maya Angelou. Hillary and Bill Clinton took a selfie with her. Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted her a shout out for referencing Hamilton lyrics in the poem. Now, her soon-to-be published book soared to number one on Amazon.
Loser: The Tiger King – So confident was he that he would be pardoned by outgoing President Donald Trump, the notorious Joe Exotic reportedly had a limo standing by ready to pick him up from prison. Sadly for reality TV fans looking forward to the sequel to the Netflix hit of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tiger King did not make the final list of pardons and commutations released Tuesday night. He remains in federal prison in Texas serving a 22-year sentence for targeting Carole Baskin in a failed murder plot and other crimes.
Evan Harris, Media Relations and Outreach Manager
Winner: Bernie Sanders (Meme) – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is making rounds on social media, but it has nothing to do with his policies. During the Biden inauguration this week, social media latched onto Sanders “comfortable” outfit, complete with a Burlington Coat Factory-looking jacket and loud-pattern mittens. Sanders memes went viral on Twitter within hours. Below are a few of my favorites…
Loser: Parents – Late last year, California Governor Gavin Newsom released a school reopening plan to get kids back in the classroom by February 2021. Unfortunately, the state seems like it is in no position to move forward with the ambitious plan. For one, there’s a large amount of confusion about the reopening plan from school associations and local government. Second, as former U.S. Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously quipped, there “known unkowns” regarding the plan. During a California State Senate hearing this week, state education leaders said they didn’t know how many schools in California are open right now or how many have applied for grants to reopen. Furthermore, they had no response to questions about how the plan to vaccinate teachers, a key part of the reopening proposal, would work.
Rowena Itchon, Senior Vice President
Winner: Joe Biden – He’s the new POTUS, after campaigning mainly from his basement. Quite an achievement even during these interesting times.
Loser: The residents and businesses of Washington DC – Inauguration is a time of celebration – hotels and restaurants should be full, and entrepreneurs should be making a little cash from inaugural souvenirs. Another casualty of COVID.
Kerry Jackson, Fellow, Center for California Reform
Winners: Search engine DuckDuckGo – It exceeded 100 million queries Monday for the first time ever. It’s a “sign that users are looking for alternatives” to search engines that collect user data and manipulate search results.
Losers: Washington, DC residents and workers – Because of Wednesday’s inauguration, the district was shut down this week like a city under siege. Freedom of movement was severely restricted in the capital of the free world.
McKenzie Richards – Development Associate
Winner: Missouri students – Missouri’s Senate Education Committee recently passed the “Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Program” bill, allowing parents to use their public education dollars to send their children to the school of their choice. Hopefully, similar bills will make their way across the country as other states learn from Missouri’s education success
Loser: Pro-life taxpayers – Within Joe Biden’s first 24 hours as U.S. President, he reversed a policy of the Trump administration that restricted the use of tax dollars to fund abortion providers. American taxpayers, including pro-life taxpayers, will once again be forced to pay nongovernmental abortion providers.