Black background with gray letters saying 2017

Thank Mother Earth 2017 is finally over. It was a year that chewed me up, crapped me out, made sweet love to me, punched me in the gut, stole my lunch money, made me laugh, pantsed me, and gave me hope. And I’m only talking about American politics.

It all began with saying goodbye to Barack Obama, the biggest disappointment since losing your virginity. His departure was going to be the end of congressional gridlock and political baby steps. Special interests, criminals, and Valerie Jarrett would no longer decide the nation’s fate while the president negotiated speaking fees with Cantor Fitzgerald. The people would take back their government, they would take back their lives. Yet, as we know all too painfully, the euphoria was immediately extinguished when Hurricane Donald made landfall.

Weeks before he was even sworn in, Donald Trump was completely ignoring the hominids who voted for him. He wasn’t draining the swamp, he was filling it with Burmese pythons and kudzu. An oil executive as Secretary of State. A phenomenally racist Attorney General. A filthy rich 80-year-old Commerce Secretary. A moronic Energy Secretary who forgot his own department even existed. It was a group of mostly white males who clearly had no regard for the poor or working families let alone women, people of color, or the environment. Since the inauguration, and its dark and linguistically cringeworthy speech, the new Republican government has shown an ever-deepening disregard for its supporters from 2016 and attacked nearly every demographic imaginable.

Perhaps the worst thing “our” government did was add Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Even without getting into Gorsuch’s specifics, there are two big reasons why this is probably worse than any of the executive orders or legislation this year. The first is that it gave us many more years of Antonin Scalia, and the second is how little the Constitution has ever really mattered in this country. The Supreme Court’s rulings, which have a much bigger impact than legislation, are never based on what the Constitution says. They rely solely on the biased political opinions of the nine incumbents. If the words of the Constitution were all that mattered, the confirmation process would be a dull formality and there would be a true separation between the judiciary and the other two branches of government. Also, we would have gun control, religion would not possess the stranglehold on public life it currently has, and the death penalty would long since have been abolished. Having Gorsuch on the bench means his antiquated views on gender could dictate the actions of millions of women and his obsolete religious ideas are likely to hold America back in a 21st century dark age. Presidents come and go, legislation expires, and news stories disappear when they are no longer profitable, but the 50-year-old Neil Gorsuch will likely be around for a very long time; even longer than the children women won’t be allowed to abort.

The Republicans followed that all-too-easy success with a spectacular failure. Their attempted dismantling of Obamacare gave many hope that their intellectual ineptitude, political in-fighting, and prostate problems would keep them from following through on any of their devastating proposals. The first problem was whether to just repeal or also replace Obama’s crowning achievement. They were caught between creating a known yet unspecified mess and a shambles of their own design. Already looking ahead to the midterms and 2020, they decided to be proactive and went for the nation’s jugular. Their bill stole billions of dollars from Medicaid which would have taken away healthcare from millions of Americans. It deregulated certain sections of the insurance industry thus increasing shareholder profits while dropping millions more from coverage and raising costs for everyone “fortunate” enough to be able to afford private insurance. Thankfully, it was too conservative for moderate Republicans and far too liberal for the lunatics who now run the party. Adding all that to the Democrats’ determination to preserve Barry’s legacy and portray themselves as the Rebel Alliance, the bill was never going to pass. The Republicans canceled the vote and a still less-than-acceptable fraction of the American people kept their existing coverage.

The embarrassment from aborting a vote on their own bill was clearly too much for the Republicans. They had to get their swagger back. They had to get back to “winning … winning like never before.” So, they made the calm, reasonable decision to move towards a nuclear war with North Korea. It was a wag the dog moment similar to Bill Clinton bombing Muslims to distract the country from the fact a woman other than his wife was playing his saxophone. The administration started by bemoaning the lack of effectiveness of international sanctions. That was a legitimate move because North Korea has long been in self-imposed isolation and the economic superpower of China will always be an ally. However, Trump then created a huge breach of etiquette by skipping bilateral negotiations and going right to threats of military action. The ways in which that was foolish are almost innumerable. Nothing causes a country to ramp up its weapons production like threatening to bomb or invade it. There is no guarantee that missile strikes would either destroy North Korea’s nuclear capabilities or cause enough civilian damage to force it to surrender. Military action would force at least China, South Korea, and Japan to get involved and disrupt some of the world’s largest populations and economies. Now remember all of that was because a dirt-poor socialist nation tested a few impotent rockets. America was never, and still is not, in any real threat of a nuclear attack. Even if it were, it has systems in place to ensure a launched missile never reaches American soil. The people of this country need to realize that threats to their safety do not come from foreign sources; they come from their own elected leaders. Not much has been said about the whole ordeal in recent weeks so hopefully Trump and Kim Jong-un have found better things to focus on, and learned to be happy with their girths and lengths.

One area in which the Republican government did something concrete was tax reform. They wrote a sweeping bill in the shadows and kept it locked there until they were ready to vote on it. The secrecy was because they knew the Democrats would never vote for it and there would have been a huge backlash from liberal and progressive voters. We now have a good idea of what to expect once the bill goes into effect. Generally, the richest Americans will get to keep more of other people’s hard-earned money and the rest will see life become even more financially burdensome. Specifically, the corporate tax rate has been cut nearly in half which means larger shareholder dividends and another increase in the rapidly growing wealth gap. It also means billions less in tax revenues which will justify the government’s attacks on Medicaid and public education. The state and local tax deduction is gone so those living in states with an income and/or sales tax will pay more, but see no benefit from additional government spending. The increased child tax credit doesn’t extend to the lowest-earning families. Those Americans will not receive an extra penny to help with feeding, clothing, or educating their children. The individual mandate included in Obamacare has been repealed, but is a double-edged sword. It eliminates the fine for not having private insurance which was a despicable act by our leaders to help increase their donors’ profits or raise money from those who can ill afford to lose more. The problem with the repeal is that many Americans will drop their coverage and raise the cost of insurance for those who cannot live without it. The bill is so extremely petty that even a deduction for bicycle commuters (in an attempt to combat climate change) has been removed. It cannot be worth much in dollars to the government, so it was nothing more than a middle finger to those who understand man-made climate change and do not believe an old man in the clouds is deliberately poisoning and suffocating us. The entire bill is what the year was always building towards: robber barons getting even richer at the expense of the most vulnerable sections of society. Poor people getting poorer, public education becoming less accessible, the environment turning more toxic, and healthcare being a privilege.

One thing you may have noticed about this brief summary of 2017 is that the Democrats barely showed up. That’s because they barely showed up in 2017. They offered scant resistance to the far-right forces taking over the country, and they made no moves towards progressivism and away from the neoliberal nonsense that lost them the 2016 election. They let Trump have his cabinet of Voldemort’s disciples and failed to scream down his potentially dangerous rhetoric over North Korea. They haven’t created any young, open-minded leaders, nor have they offered any fresh ideas for the future. The Democrats spent the year whining about Trump and Russia, all of which has been wasted time. The Cold War ended nearly thirty years ago so making Russia the enemy of the state again is nothing short of silly. Even if Russia did sway the election, there is very little that can be done about it. A few Trump campaign staffers may go to jail, but there are no special elections for the presidency so if Trump is ultimately removed from office, Mike Pence becomes president. If Pence also had contact with the Russians, there are many more Republican troglodytes in line for Trump’s gilded throne. Getting rid of Trump will not end the bigoted, anti-science, avaricious, misogynistic poison we’ve had to witness this year. Also, unless America gets rid of its electronic voting machines and greatly curtails campaign contributions, every election will be susceptible to outside influence and theft.

Despite of all my bleak comments thus far, there were some positives in 2017. Firstly, watching wife-of-a-former-president Hillary Clinton be a front row spectator at Trump’s inauguration brought a Paul Ryan-worthy smirk to my face. Obama’s post-presidency travels and income have provided irrefutable evidence that he was, and still is, yet another money-obsessed, tone deaf, neoliberal elitist. Progressives can now say “I told you so” and use their (hopefully mild and considerate) smugness to pull more people out to the true left. Bob Corker, Joe Barton, Pat Tiberi, and Blake Farenthold, among others, will not be around in 2018 (although unfortunately still stealing oxygen). On a more serious note, there really is plenty to be hopeful about moving forward. The women’s march in January attracted approximately half a million people in Washington alone and has since been ranked as the largest single-day protest in history. The fight against neofascism and neoliberalism will never succeed without women being at the forefront. Thankfully, that is exactly what is happening. The increase in women participating in public life is fueling an all-around increase in political awareness and activism. More and more Americans are educating themselves on their government and public policy which will lead to better-informed voting, cutting-edge grassroots activism, and a more diverse pool of candidates from which to choose. The progressive left has grown exponentially in both membership and ideas. 2018 could very well see one, or more, socialist organizations become electoral forces. The community bill of rights movement, as well as the increase in community radio stations and local nonprofits, could ignore electoral politics and achieve much of what the government refuses to. There is absolutely no reason to be hopeful about our government as it currently stands, but there is still plenty to be excited about. There could very well be enough energized progressives across the country to give us the America we all want and deserve.

May you all have a happy, healthy, successful, and goddamn radical 2018!