2016 was the third worst year of my (admittedly very good) life. I am more fearful for my country’s future than I have ever been. My husband and I are seriously considering dramatic life changes as a result. This time in our country is not normal, and I refuse to normalize it. We are about to have an idiot as President of the United States and I fear at best he is an unwitting puppet of the Russians who bankrolled his ridiculous financial dealings after other banks wised up.
2016 was awful for personal reasons beyond the celebrity deaths half-jokingly attributed to the year itself. I won’t discuss the personal. But the fears I have for my country are real. We elected a Mussolini in waiting, an egotistical and ignorant man with nowhere near the temperament to be our leader. A majority of us knew better, but an Electoral College developed to protect slave owners allowed Trump to prevail. It is our current system. I question whether we have enough people who are willing to work to change it. Now more than ever, we need people who are willing to speak truth to power. Are people too cynical? Too focused on their personal lives? Too afraid? Too lulled into believing it cannot happen here? Because it absolutely can. I am appalled that people I know who have studied World War II cannot see this coming storm. I will not “get over” the bastardization of this country by someone who may very well be a real-life Manchurian Candidate who would push us even further down the road of oligarchy, government by the wealthy for the wealthy. Knowing that many of the people who will be harmed by the changes coming from this incoming Administration, including people I love very much, voted for this catastrophe, is not comforting in the least.
I am not optimistic about 2017. But I have hope. Hope is different, as was pointed out so beautifully by a dear friend. I believe in Jesus Christ, and I have hope that the worst thing is not the last thing. I am a Star Wars fan, and hope is a central theme in that universe. I voted twice for Barack Obama, who campaigned on a message of hope, reminding us how we as Americans are so much more alike than different. I am clinging to the hope that wise advisers will steer Trump, that he will heed their advice, that good people will stand up and resist efforts to undermine freedom of the press and destroy the social safety net, the public education system, the relationships with longtime allies, and the common decency that is very much at risk. I am hopeful that our country will live up to its ideals as stated so beautifully by Emma Lazarus and welcome and love the immigrant, the poor, the huddled masses. I pray that we recognize we cannot wall ourselves off from globalization and automation and climate change, no matter how hard we stick our fingers in our ears and shout out for the “glory days.” I pray that the hard-working blue collar white people who are so resentful that they are not doing as well as their parents realize that the people of color in this country are not to blame, but have started with even less than they have and band together with them, not against them.
I hope that we can do this. I believe we can do this. I believe we must do this. I am putting my time, talent, and treasure in 2017 toward political leaders and organizations that will work for this. Please do this. I am so heartened by those of you who have reached out to me in the months after the election to say that you are listening, that you want to join the fight, that you want better for your kids, that you want me to keep talking. Thank you. My hope for 2017 is that it is the year we realize what we are about to lose in this greatest country on earth, and fight hard for it.
I will raise my glass tonight to a 2017 that is filled with faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love, and my hope is that we will act on hope rather than fear this year, collectively and individually.