In May 2020, social media users shared a quote from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, questioning whether the Democratic congresswoman from California had indeed stated that "civilization as we know it today is at stake" in regards to the 2020 presidential election.
Pelosi did make the remark, although she said it at a CNN town hall months earlier, in December 2019. She was answering the following question: "If Donald Trump is reelected, and continues to behave corruptly, and with a disregard for truth, human dignity, and the law, what recourse will the House have, since the impeachment process will already have taken place? What will the checks be on this president if he is reelected?"
Pelosi responded, "Let's not even contemplate that" before she moved on to broadly critique the Trump administration for the "damage" it has done to the country.
She ended her response by stating, "So, again, we don't agonize. We organize. And we do so in a way that, again, is unifying for our country. It is absolutely imperative. Civilization, as we know it today, is at stake in the next election, and certainly, our planet."
Although Pelosi's comments were being circulated in May 2020 amid an ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic, she originally made them in a different context. That same day, Dec. 5, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives moved forward to draft articles of impeachment against Trump. The articles ultimately charged him with abuse of power and obstructing Congress for pressuring the Ukrainian president to produce damaging information on Trump's Democratic political rival Joe Biden while Trump withheld crucial U.S. military aid. Trump was later acquitted by the U.S. Senate of both articles in February 2020.