I don’t know if you’ve heard, but 2017 has not been a great year. I may have written about it once or twice. Social media is riddled with lamentation of the times. My boss comments a few times a week that he has never been more depressed.
It’s hard to argue with the logic. A brief and by no means comprehensive review of 2017:
Nazis have lifted their heads up from a collective puddle of drool to find that the President of the United States is an apologist.
Racism and xenophobia are official policies of the United States government
There were nearly 350 mass shootings, a record even by the U.S.’s lofty standards of gun violence. North Korea has a nuclear weapon.
The guy in charge of stopping climate change is a (snake) oil salesman who has decided that a few more dollars in his pocket are more important than the citizens of Miami, or New York, or L.A., or Houston.
Speaking of L.A. and Houston, they’ve been wrecked by devastating natural disasters. Puerto Rico has been hit even harder, and because the people are poor and brown, can’t count on the same level of government support.
To cap it off, the Republican Party has put to rest the notion that they give even one fuck about anyone except their donors and themselves by passing one of the worst pieces of major legislation ever to be introduced.
(I would be remiss if I did not mention that the U.S. Men’s National Team did not qualify for the World Cup. It’s on a lower plane of importance, but I won’t pretend I don’t care).
So yeah, not great. But let me tell you why I am not depressed. I concede that the events of this year have been, on balance, terrible. But if you lift up your head for a moment and try to look forward, lots of good things are happening.
Democratic victories—in Virginia and New Jersey, but also in Georgia, Oklahoma and ALABAMA—have not only begun to tilt back the balance of power, they have proved that every election is winnable and should be contested.
The #MeToo movement, begun by the Weinstein allegations, has been absolutely incredible. The silence breakers more than deserved to be Time’s People of the Year. May this train pick up steam in 2018.
In a nice fusion of the above, and in possibly my favorite statistic of the year, Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to helping pro-choice women win elections, has heard from over 20,000 women interested in running for office. That’s up from 920 in 2015 and 2016 combined.
Seven years ago, Democrats lost control of House for insuring tens of millions of additional Americans. Now, a universal government-provided health care option is as popular as it’s ever been, and Republicans are going to lose the House next year for trying to repeal that same law.
I mentioned earlier the Republicans proving that they don’t care about anyone but themselves by passing a tax bill which further enriches the wealthy on the backs of the low- and middle-income. The bill is terrible, but I love that Republicans have, at long last, openly stated their position. Voters notice. Their party is over. They just haven’t realized it yet.
French voters resoundingly rejected xenophobia and nationalism, but also sclerotic politics-as-usual, in favor of a bold new approach. Emmanuel Macron is not a savior, but he is a symbol—a symbol that some are not ready to given up on the promises of openness and liberalism just yet. Also, he’s awarded “Make The World Great Again” grants to American climate scientists, which is pretty great.
Michigan State’s men’s basketball team is really, really good.
Most inspiring of all, the public in general, and progressives and young voters in particular, are as energized as we have been in a decade. It’s amazing to see the anger, the engagement, and the hunger to make a difference. More than anything else, that gives hope going forward
So buck up, everyone. 2018 will be a better year.
After working in Washington, D.C., for two years, Andrew Orlebeke (’10) is in graduate school in Seattle, Washington, studying public policy. In addition to public service, he has a passion for traveling and an abiding love of sports.