How the most pivotal events of 2022 will shape 2023 and beyond



2022 had a lasting impact on many, and it is likely that 2023 will carry the momentum in what seems like an uncharted journey.

DREW HILL, Opinion Columnist

As we continue through the first month of 2023, perhaps still adjusting to writing the correct date or failing on New Year’s resolutions, I think it is important to look back on the events of 2022. Some of these events we may have already forgotten. Others will be unforgettable for the majority of Americans. Some of these events are still ongoing and affecting us today.

OSHA Mandate

One of the first events in 2022 that had a large impact regarded an OSHA mandate that was overturned by the Supreme Court on January 13. The Emergency Temporary Standard would have required companies with more than 100 employees to either have them all be vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests and wear masks at all times. This was in order to deal with surging Omicron cases at the time. However, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, determined that this exceeded the scope of OSHA’s authority. They placed a stay on the rule, which OSHA withdrew on Jan. 26, according to Spencer Kimball of CNBC. The Supreme Court did allow a similar, smaller-scale mandate for healthcare providers to go through. Part of the reasoning behind the OSHA measure, supported by President Joe Biden, was to encourage more vaccinations. The rule would have affected around 80 million employees of private companies, according to the article by CNBC. A CDC report said that by Jan. 27, 75.1% of the total U.S. population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 63.6 % being considered fully vaccinated. Opponents of the measure were concerned about unelected officials making these kinds of sweeping decisions. They also were concerned about people resigning their jobs over the stringent rules, potentially aggravating an already troublesome labor shortage. Despite the withdrawal of the mandate, the number of cases soon dropped, falling drastically by March.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine

In February, tensions continued to rise between Ukraine and Russia over the Russian military buildup that began in 2021. Russia denied a plan to invade, but after recognizing two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine, Russia finally invaded on Feb. 24. What began as an expectation for a quick victory turned quickly into a tug of war over eastern Ukraine between the two nations. Despite slow gains early for Russia, Ukraine has retaken several key points, such as Kherson in eastern Ukraine, according to BBC News. This was a big gain tactically and for momentum, as Ukraine is now in striking distance of Russian-controlled Crimea, and Russia had previously made Kherson one of its goals, according to Al Jazeera. The Ukrainian people have shown much more resolve in their defense than Russia in its attack, and that has played a part. Ukraine also has had backing from most of Europe and the U.S. Those countries have sent money and military support to Ukraine and used economic sanctions to attempt to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the invasion. This war has caused millions of people to have to leave Ukraine. There are economic consequences for nations all over the world due to the war and the sanctions. The war is still ongoing, though the pace of battle has slowed due to the winter. A variety of outcomes could be in play as we move forward into 2023, although momentum seems to be favoring Ukraine at the moment.

Women’s Rights

A pivotal event of 2022 which had been on the table for nearly 50 years was the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case Dobbs v. Jackson. This decision by the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, returning the right to regulate abortion to the states. Under Roe v. Wade and the follow-up case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, states could only regulate abortions after the point of viability. This was challenged by the state of Mississippi, who looked to enact a 15-week abortion standard. The decision to overturn Roe. v. Wade by the Supreme Court was met with protests and condemnations by those who support abortion and joy by those who oppose abortion. An article about the reasons why Dobbs v. Jackson was a good decision appeared in the Northern Iowan on Aug. 29, 2022. In terms of the case’s effects, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that approximately 18 states have banned or restricted abortion, and six more have either had restrictions blocked or are likely to continue to attempt to restrict abortion. Iowa’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling from 2018 that supported the idea of abortion rights being in the state constitution, opening the door for restrictions to be implemented.

On Dec. 12, 2022 according to the Des Moines Register, the sixth district court declined to overturn an injunction on the Heartbeat Bill, which would have banned abortion after about six weeks, or when a fetal heartbeat is detected. Governor Kim Reynolds has promised to appeal the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court, and the Iowa legislature could also pass a new law. Either way, this will continue to be a hotly debated issue, now becoming more localized as each state looks at its own laws.

Twitterverse speech

In April, one of the richest people in the world, Elon Musk, announced a $44 billion offer to purchase Twitter, according to James Clayton and Peter Hoskins of BBC News. 

He had expressed dissatisfaction with some of Twitter’s policies regarding misinformation and wanted to make it less restrictive. However, in the summer, he tried to back out of the deal due to more fake accounts than what Twitter executives had claimed. Twitter executives fought to hold him to his offer, and he eventually went through with the deal, completing it in late October. After his purchase, Elon Musk moved to fire much of the executive team. 

In December, he began releasing what were known as the “Twitter Files,” which were shared by selected journalists on Twitter. These mostly consisted of internal documents and messages between Twitter employees that showcased how they handled controversial content moderation issues in the past. These included the banning of former President Donald Trump, as well as claims of pressure to censor content by government sources, such as the FBI, according to Aimee Picchi of CBS News and Scott Whitlock of Fox News. Overall, the circumstances surrounding Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and subsequent decisions have led to more controversy. Some suggest that by rolling back many of the content moderation policies and reinstating former people who had been banned from Twitter, hate speech and misinformation will be allowed to spread much more easily. On the other hand, others point out that a free speech platform should not be as restrictive on free speech. The controversies around censorship, free speech, hate speech and misinformation on social media platforms is unlikely to go away any time soon.

Midterm: Red Wave

Finally, two years after the Presidential election of 2020, the U.S. held 2022 midterm elections. The entire U.S. House of Representatives, 34 U.S. Senators, 36 state governors and many state legislators and officials were elected. Many political commentators anticipated a potential wave of Republicans elected in response to the last two years under Democrat control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency. 

While Republicans did take control of the U.S. House, they did not achieve the gains they had been hoping for. Democrats not only maintained control of the Senate, but actually gained a seat. However, a few states saw massive Republican victories, including Florida and here in Iowa. 

In Iowa, Governor Reynolds and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley beat the polls in dominant reelections. All four of Iowa’s U.S. House seats were won by Republicans, which had not happened since 1994. Iowa Republicans increased control in both houses of the Iowa General Assembly. Overall in the country, though, the midterm elections showed that voters have remained sharply divided over the last two years.These were some of the impactful events of 2022 that we can learn from as we move forward into 2023. Hopefully, it will be a great year ahead.