Big white stately building with round top and lots of windows behind a huge green truck with a big arm and huge shovel putting a ton of white snow in a big pile in front

This week, January traveled to Switzerland and was humanely put out of its misery. The politically dreadful first chapter of 2018 contained a lot of “excitement” and taught us plenty about those who supposedly represent us. Regrettably, none of it was great. We should all be glad it is over and use its lessons to move forward into the new month and the rest of the year.

The overall theme of January was the Republicans attacking nearly everyone in sight with the Democrats, when they weren’t helping them, passively observing. The Trump administration fired the opening salvo for a new battle in the War on Drugs. Bringing down the legal marijuana industry became a new focus for the federal government, putting the livelihoods and even freedom of thousands of Americans in jeopardy. The political elite know their days will be numbered when the electorate opens up its collective mind and sees them for the selfish, corrupt snakes they are. They are also desperate to rid the country of marijuana because they hate fully-funded public schools and love children dying of seizures. They loathe falling unemployment rates and love it when small businesses disappear. The industry has been left alone in recent weeks, but the government is going to run out of things to get mad about soon. Watch this space.

Men and women who grow and/or smoke pot weren’t enough for the administration. They had to get their lange Messer out for the sick and the poor, women, and our environment. State governments are now permitted to include a work requirement for Medicaid coverage, meaning applicants will need to have a job before they can obtain benefits. This new rule will take away, and refuse, coverage from a huge portion of those already covered or in need. Employment with a living wage will put individuals’ income at a level high enough to not qualify. Those who for a variety of reasons cannot work will feel the Republican boots on their heads forcing them deeper down into desperation. Until the people win their single-payer system, anything other than a massive expansion of Medicaid is guaranteed to hurt the most economically and medically needy.

The Congress dealt with another anti-abortion bill. Thankfully, it did not pass, but it was only a tiny victory in an ongoing war on women. The law would have told women what they could do with their own bodies and how to handle their pregnancies. Anyone assisting them would have been heavily fined and possibly sent to jail. Patriarchy and misogyny are alive and well in our government. Science, compassion, and privacy are not.

Ryan Zinke’s Department of the Interior spent the month attempting to open America’s coastlines and oceans to fossil fuel exploration. A dramatic increase in the number of oil rigs will achieve nothing but three things: the continued election of terrible politicians, skyrocketing profits for their owners, and the exacerbation of climate change. Many states have called for exemptions from new licenses and there has already been enough public outrage that the plan currently isn’t going anywhere. However, the will of the government and the real-life Hoggish Greedlys is still there, so this is an issue that won’t disappear with January.

Then there was the ridiculous shutdown. The Republicans wanted an end to DACA protections for undocumented immigrants and the Democrats wanted the law to continue. Both sides stood their ground and refused to agree to a short-term bill to keep the federal government open. The Democrats offered billions of dollars to build a wall on the Mexican border, but the Republicans wanted milk as well as the cookie. The Democrats got scared and reopened the government with neither a victory for the Dreamers nor themselves.

The Democrats were weak with everything else too. They said almost nothing about protecting the legal marijuana industry and the Medicaid issue wasn’t given anywhere near the amount of attention it deserved. They voted to continue the NSA’s unconstitutional spying programs and just about brought themselves to vote against advancing the abortion bill. They cannot use their minority status as an excuse for accomplishing so little. The Republicans did not control the government during Obama’s eight years and they were very active and very successful.

So that was January. One side of our government: started a new battle against a plant; tried to tell women their bodies are not their own; took healthcare away from sick and poor people; shut down the government because they are terrified of people who look different and talk funny; started down a path to total environmental destruction; purged scientists from their positions; and continued spying on the American people. The other side watched at a distance from behind the couch.

Our week opened with the aforementioned abortion bill which died when the Senate voted against advancing it to debate. One more thing that should be known about this is that three Democrats voted in favor of the bill. All three (Donnelly, Casey, and Manchin) are from red or purple states and hoped to appeal to their more conservative constituents so as to hold on to their seats. For anyone on the left to vote for them is just plain insane. Why vote for someone so you can regain a majority only for them to vote against it? Is the ability to say you have a Democrat in office more important than the issues they will be working on? The only difference between Manchin and a Republican senator is the letter next to their name on TV screens. Calling Joe Manchin a Democrat/liberal/progressive is the same as saying Rachel Dolezal is an African American.

The centerpiece of the week was Trump’s first State of the Union address. I planned on this week’s theme being outrage or disgust, but the speech didn’t warrant that. I was waiting for the speech to begin with “People of Eternia, I stand before the gr…...” and descend into foul language and ad hominem attacks, yet it was largely mediocre. He predictably said terrible things about certain demographics and shared many, many falsehoods. He regurgitated his administration’s positions on immigration and taxes, and opened and closed with the same dull phrases every President has used for years. There were no surprise proposals or grand legislative agenda. There was little self-aggrandizement and plenty of restraint (for him). He didn’t point to grumpy Chuck Schumer and start a chant of “Fuck Chuck, Fuck Chuck, Fuck Chuck.” He neglected to call the Democrats losers and didn’t live tweet from the podium. There was no entrance music as he walked in and had a bimbo pull a cape from his shoulders.

There was nothing new for the people to take from the speech. His opinions and intentions have been thrust in our faces for well over two years now. We all already know how despicable he and the rest of the government are. There won’t need to be any changes for the resistance to the far-right because of anything in the State of the Union.

For their response to the address, the Democrats chose Joe Kennedy III. This is the party that has millions of disaffected progressive voters and which lost its blue-collar support to a neo-fascist billionaire. The same party that forced through a candidate whose greatest attribute was her surname. Joe Kennedy is a 37-year-old member of the Kennedy dynasty and has a personal fortune in the tens of millions. To showcase their bright future, the Democrats put forth a rich East-Coaster from a long line of politicians and businessmen. They have an astounding lack of self- and political-awareness (could they be any more tone deaf?). As if Kennedy’s profile was bad enough, his speech contained nothing to excite young and progressive voters. He made zero mention of single-payer healthcare, a living wage, gun control, free public education, 100% renewable energy, etc. He didn’t even bother to offer new ideas to please neoliberals. If he’s the future of the Democratic Party, the last of the progressive holdouts need to develop some grit and jump ship now.

And that’s it. Our representatives had 168 hours to move the country forward and all they managed were two forgettable speeches and a decision to not discuss attacking women’s rights. All in all, a boring week of little action is the best we can hope for right now.