By Vernon A. Williams
“Good riddance” is probably the first thought that comes to mind for most Americans in summing up 2017. It’s been a rough year.
If adversity, conflict and challenges breed character and strengthen resolve, then we should be optimistic about what 2018 will bring.
It seems like a distant memory when we saw a cantankerous, lewd and rude egomaniac declare candidacy for the highest office in the free world – without having served in any office of local, state or national government.
His bold pronouncement was accompanied by insults to Mexicans as being rapists and murderers, which to any sane person would only compound the slim odds of his candidacy. He paid those in the audience $50 to cheer him on.
A joke, right? Yes, until his 16 Republican opponents, most of whom he gave insulting and degrading nicknames, fell out of the competition like dominoes. Suddenly this unlikely character was the nominee of the GOP. Most predicted that would insure more civil decorum.
The party nominee proved even more brass and brazen than the primary candidate; boasting of sexual assaults against women, exposing his xenophobia, and going so far as to mock a physically handicapped reporter. Logic predicted his doom. His base only expanded.
Shocking the world to win the presidency, the unlikely victor chose to intensify rather than soften his offensive, oppressive positions. He loaded the cabinet with people who believed in the dismantling of agencies they were appointed to administer; hired and fired an inordinate number of high-ranking individuals, and alienated allies.
The new presidency embodied the spirit of “Murphy’s Law” assuring that whatever COULD go wrong, indeed DID.
Given the opportunity to shine on race relations, Agent Orange went in the opposite direction declaring that both those violently purporting Nazism, Fascism and racism were really no better or worse than those who turned out to oppose their nationalist and bigoted views. Forty-five was a huge zero on this critical issue.
Despite church and school mass shootings and tragedy in Las Vegas that ended with 600 wounded and more than 50 shot dead, Agent Orange would no sooner speak a word to deal with gun control than he would to denounce election meddling of his “bromance” partner in crime, Vladimir Putin.
As a matter of fact, on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting that left 22 dead – most of them early elementary school students – the master tweeter did not commemorate the occasion with a word of compassion. Instead, he held a party at the White House with leadership of the National Rifle Association.
There is no time or space to include every infraction, every setback, every insult to the dignity of democracy, but we would be remiss not to include the leader of the free world supporting a racist and pedophile, who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in Alabama. Though by a disturbingly thin margin, that bid was defeated.
It was in that loss that we segue from the despair of 2017 to the substance for hope in 2018. The African American vote was the margin of difference in Alabama, beyond a doubt. While only 26 percent of the population, Black voters comprised some 30 percent of those who cast ballots.
It was affirmation that despite gerrymandering and voter suppression, people of color and those who support true ideals that reflect what this great nation stands for, can make a difference against all odds. You will see better fielding of candidates, better voter registration and information, zealous “get out the vote” campaigns and RESULTS.
Vying for Democratic control of the House and Senate are noble goals and would definitely provide a foundation for the nation’s moral recovery. In the interim, Americans have to start rediscovering civility and our capacity to disagree without being disagreeable. We will then begin to regenerate that which rebuilds our capacity to sustain a great nation.
One other thing from 2017 demands mention. That is the emergence of women identifying men in power who abused their position for sexual advancement. The year ushered in a new era of transparency, a new verve for holding attackers accountable. Perhaps someday it will include the Assaulter in Chief at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Finally, the FBI investigation that started in 2017 is certain to pick up steam as it moves into 2018. The longer it goes, the more it reveals and the closer it comes to the Oval Office. That alone is reason for optimism. Happy New Year.