As 2017 lurches to an unseemly close, tradition dictates both a ritual retrospective as well as some vision of what the New Year might be. The only problem with this tradition is that 2017 may be seen as one of the worst non-war/non-depression years in American history and there is no way to put lipstick on that particular pig. Nevertheless, 2018 comes to us as a blank slate for the moment, despite our well-founded fears and trepidation.
Twelve months ago we knew that Donald Trump was going to be the 45th President of the United States. The fact was sinking in that Hillary Clinton could run a campaign that was so bad that she could actually lose to an admitted sexual predator who also doubled as a gilt-edge scam artist and who was an uncloseted misogynist and racist to boot. And twelve months ago we knew that the New Year was going to be bad because, despite his virtually infinite number of faults, Donald Trump was known to actually keep his promises on occasion.
It was clear that Trump’s dystopian vision of Making America Great again, in large part meant making America safe and comfortable for white Americans who had not been feeling safe and comfortable. And so, we saw a presidential cabinet that looked like the result of a White Billionaire Employment Program, with Betsy DeVos, Elaine Chao and Ben Carson thrown into the mix to add some faux diversity. And by taking even the briefest look at his appointees, it was also clear that Donald Tinyhands intended to do his level best to dismantle the legacy of the Obama Administration, not realizing that while programs can be dismantled and executive orders can be rescinded, the historical legacy of Barack Obama will always be out of the reach of those tiny hands.
And so, we have seen a year where the White House seems like some kind of Gilbert and Sullivanesque farce, with Donald Trump pretending to be a president who abhors information, intelligence or the truth while the president’s team seems to have arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in a motorcade of clown cars. We have seen what can happen when ignorance and malevolence are combined and the results have ranged from the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Environmental Accords, to reigniting the ongoing conflagration in the Middle East to engaging in puerile spitball fights with the unbalanced leader of North Korea (who just so happens to have nuclear weapons) to eviscerating virtually every protection for consumers of financial services and the air we breathe and the water we drink.
Last week, virtually every nation on Earth, save nine, voted to condemn the Trump decision to announce that the American embassy would be moving to Jerusalem. The response of the Trump administration was to “take names”, an epic statement for the history books uttered by Ambassador Nikki Haley, a Trump appointee who is so far out of her league that she would need a ladder to get to the minor leagues of global diplomacy.
Last year at this time we wondered how bad the Trump presidency could be, and that was before Trump fired the FBI Director thereby letting the whole world know that there was something in the Trumpworld – Russia relationship that had to be wrong. And, of course, this was before Donald Trump appointed some Goodfella wannabe named Scaramucci to slither across the White House stage for a few moments of vulgar vainglory.
Last year at this time we faced the unknown and feared it. This year, at this time, we know how bad Trump really is, and we even have a pretty good idea of how bad 2018 can be with Donald Trump still pretending to be President Twitter, living in a fantasy world that terrorizes most Americans and most of the world.
It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, the silver lining around the Cloud That Is Trump is that there are limits to the damage that his infantile behavior can inflict. The silver lining is that good people of good will have begun to find their voice and their strength, like a race of sleeping giants that is finally awakening. The silver lining is that we are all better than Donald J. Trump, and that we have always have been better than him and will always be better than him. The silver lining is that people of decency and good will who are guided by the angels of their better nature will prevail and that the legacy of Donald Tinyhands, as horrific as it seems today, will one day soon be a forgotten figment of the national imagination.