So, lots of people are greeting 2017 with enthusiasm, assuming (or hoping) that is has to be better than 2016. 2016 was, indeed, a dreadful crap-fest. Terrorist attacks, desperate refugees, the Syrian civil war, and Russian ass-holery were all bad enough, but here in the US we had an election that literally threatens the life of the Republic. Pretty much everyone whose last name isn’t Trump has ample reason to be happy to see the year in the rear-view mirror.
But, of course, as much as we try to make January 1st into a celebration of newness and renewal, it is nothing of the kind. Each successive year works out the tensions and conflicts of the preceding, while introducing new ones. It’s an open question how those tensions and conflicts will work themselves out at this particular moment of history.
So, regardless of its infant state, and with particular reference to the situation here in the US, let’s shove 2017 under a bright light and ask it questions that need answers–
- Will Donald Trump live up to his hype and become the rampaging narcissistic tyrant the words he uttered during his campaign promised? For the sake of the Republic, for the sake of ordinary people, we pray he doesn’t, that he will somehow find it in himself to conduct his presidency in a manner that will help and not harm the lives of Americans and the admittedly imperfect form of government we’ve sacrificed so much for. We hope and pray, but our expectations are low.
- Will Republicans, now that they have control over two out of three branches of the government (and possess a fair prospect of seizing control of the third, in the form of the Supreme Court), find it in themselves to actually govern? The modern Republican party has so long been an institution of obstruction and denial it is difficult imagining them actually engaging in doing anything positive.
- Some folks on the right-wing seem to be set to try to rollback almost every gain America has made in the last eighty years– never mind the Affordable Care Act or Roe v. Wade, these people have their sights set on Social Security. Will they be allowed to gut the progress of the last three generations of Americans for the sake of ideologies most Americans do not share?
- Will the white supremacists and the climate change deniers and the billionaires and the CEO’s who are Trumps advisers and cabinet members actually stand for something other than their fanaticism or their self-interest?
- Is anyone in the incoming Congress or administration going to face up to the fact that global warming is real, and is a direct threat to our nation? This issue, which should be one of science and reasoned response, is another that has become entangled in ideological claptrap.
- When Trump violates the Constitution, will the Republican-dominated Congress find it in themselves to apply the Constitutionally-mandated remedy of impeachment? Or will it roll over and play dead because the guy in the White House is their’s and giving them goodies?
- How much suffering lies ahead for the American people? How much will they have to go through before this irrational poison is flushed from our system? And what form will the flushing take?
Poor 2017– it can’t answer these questions. Neither can anyone else. We are just going to have pray, live these times out and do what we can. I can’t think of a better way to encapsulate our purpose now than this scene from Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring—
None of us who want a better future for our country wanted to find ourselves here. But these times are upon us, and now we have to decide what to do. At the very least, speak for the voiceless, stand up for the helpless, and tell tyranny the truth. We don’t have to row to Mordor; it is upon us. But one thing is true– we have to do this together.
May God bless us and keep us through what is coming.