From a socio-political perspective, this past year has been a cosmic-level trashfire. Hell, one could make the argument that this quagmire we’re all trying our best to cope with began the day Cheeto Hitler declared his intent to run for president. Following his win, it has been a never-ending battle to minimize the harm he has sought to cause. In many cases, that harm has centered around attempting to eliminate the achievements of his predecessor, President Obama. He pulled the United States out of the Paris Accords (with Nicaragua and Syria having signed the Accords, the United States is the only major country in the world to refuse the deal), rejected the Iran Nuclear Deal, and he has pushed over and over again for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (not caring that such a move would lead to roughly 32 million people–on top of the millions without coverage already–without healthcare coverage by 2026).
When he’s not trying to undo President Obama’s legacy, the bigoted bumblefuck has been aggressively working on his grand plan to Make America Great Again For Those Poor Persecuted and Aggrieved White Men, The Last Demographic Deemed Socially Acceptable To Discriminate Against (this, despite the fact that white men experience no measurable discrimination based on their race or gender). More a back of the beverage napkin drunken bucket list than a meticulously composed, well thought out, evidence based course of action, this grand plan (which honestly can’t really be called a plan) has included:
- pardoning the guilty and virulently racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio who really should have been imprisoned for the rest of his life (which is probably 10 years at best, given his age)
- attacking the Mayor of Puerto Rico (on more than one level, as the Petulant Pissant never wastes an opportunity to “put women in their place ” by indulging his sexist side) and blaming Puerto Ricans for not doing enough to repair their own island in the wake of Hurricane Maria (and don’t forget his declaration about the great job he has done, and throwing fucking paper towels at Puerto Ricans)
- rejecting any influence on the the 2016 presidential election by Russia and claiming (without a shred of evidence to support his position) that widespread voter fraud led to Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote instead of him
- undermining faith in and credibility of the Presidency with his inability to inform his statements with facts and evidence
- taking aim at Freedom of the Press by openly speculating on how he could censor media outlets that do not kiss his ass
- referring to NFL players protesting over police brutality and systemic racism in the United States as “sons of bitches” and calling for them to be fired
- disrespecting the family of a fallen U.S. soldier *and* the soldier himself (that he can bring himself to chastise anti-racist advocates for disrespecting U.S. soldiers, while he does that very thing is maddening)
- ending workplace protections for transgender people
- granting white supremacist fuckhead Steve Bannon a role in his administration, as well as nominating the Racist Ratfucker himself, Jeff “the Confederate loving, should have been born 150 years ago “Sessions, to Attorney General
- Muslim Ban 1, Muslim Ban 2, Muslim Ban 3
- seeking to punish ‘Sanctuary Cities’ for not participating in or supporting the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants
- That Fucking Wall
- Refusing to 100% condemn white supremacist violence in Charlottesville “but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides”, “I think there’s blame on both sides […]
- threatening federal funding for UC-Berkeley for shutting down one of his staunchest supporters, a speaker well known for ginning up hatred against women, gays, Blacks, Muslims, immigrants, and transgender people and who thinks of himself as a “provocateur” who is spreading truths that others are too fearful to speak (I refer to that wretched waste of space, Milo Yiannopoulous), and who has–on more than one occasion–referred to the Orange Menace as “Daddy”***
That’s not a comprehensive list, by the way. With the exception of maybe three items, those incidents were off the top of my head. Being an authoritarian bully and a fascist-leaning, racist rapist, who speaks without any care or concern for what he says or how he says it pretty much guarantees that anything he says or does during his tenure is going to, at the very least, piss people the fuck off. I really don’t want to imagine what his list of “accomplishments” will look like come the end of his term (which will hopefully be the only one).
Making matters worse for those of us who realize that “Make America Great Again” is a dog whistle is that the GOP controls so much of the federal government. You’d think that if one of the two major political parties in this country gained as much power as the GOP currently has, they might be able to get significant legislation through. Heck, they might even do something wild and totally unheard of like, oh, I don’t know…GOVERN. Alas, all they seem capable of doing is introducing legislation to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (they’ve backed away from that for now, but I am confident think they’ll be back at it in the spring of 2018).
You know, that’s not fair. Sure the Bigoted Blowhard is so incompetent that brokering a peace deal between kindergartners (let alone war-torn nations embroiled in combat whose origins reach back centuries) is far outside his wheelhouse and sure his party has tried (and largely failed) to keep out immigrants and MuslimsAnd never mind that he and his administration (and by extension, the Republican Party) have had success in one area: the advancement of progressive social or political agendas that benefit people other than rich, white men have been stifled. With these people in power, the best we’ve been able to hope for all year is that we’ll be able to minimize the damage he and the GOP want to cause. There certainly wasn’t any hope on the horizon that things would get better.
At least, not until Tuesday night.
Tuesday night saw a series of wins for the Democratic Party in local and state elections across the country. These wins signaled to the Republican Party that they don’t have as secure a grip on power as they thought. While I’m not so quick to believe that the Democratic gains can be attributed solely to anti-POTUS45 sentiment, it’s hard to deny such frustration weighed on the minds of many voters. After all, virtually everything he’s done in the year since he won has felt like an attempt to turn the clock back on as much social, political, and economic progress as he can–especially anything achieved by or during the tenure of President Obama. In fact, looking at his executive orders, his tweets, his refusal to finish nominating key positions in his Cabinet, his lack of experience, his colossal ego, his brutish, thugish attitude, his frequent refusal to listen to his advisers, his profound ignorance, his departure from presidential norms and traditions, and the various legal, moral, and ethical problems that have dogged him since well before he moved into the White House, the Bombastic Buffoon has effectively cast himself as the antithesis of President Obama. The Anti-Obama, a symbol of hopelessness, if you will (one that is doing his level best to run this country into the ground).
For the better part of the last year, that hopelessness has weighed on me. It’s hard to not feel deflated after such a defeat, and there’s no such thing as “returning to normal”. The old normal is gone, replaced by a new, more depressing normal. One where questions like:
“what did the asshat say on Twitter today?”
“what city will see emboldened Nazis proudly walking the streets, whining about a non-existent white genocide and acting as if this country belongs to them?”
“Is this the day Congress votes to strip people of the health insurance they need to buy costly medication?”
“will he get mad at some country and decide to bomb them, thus kicking off a war?”
“how much more of the swamp is he going to fill up?”
“how much damage will his various appointees cause?”
“what bullshit excuse will his press secretary offer to cover for his comments?”
“I really, truly hope no one dies or steps down from SCOTUS until he’s gone”
In other words, the “new normal” has been filled with dread. That’s why I found Tuesday’s wins significant. Not so much due to the wins in Virginia and New Jersey, where Democrats now control the governor’s office. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see Republicans unseated anywhere bc that party is fucking evil and any opportunity to remove them from power ought to be cause for celebration. But it was the smaller successes that really made me swell with joy on Wednesday morning. These are the wins that I was elated to learn about:
- Vi Lyles made history as the first African-American woman elected as mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina.
- In a win for two marginalized communities, the Minneapolis City Council now counts Phillipe Cunningham and Andrea Jenkins. –both Black and both transgender–as members.
- The next Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Justin Fairfax, is African-American.
- Ravi Bhalla becoming the first Sikh mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey.
- Despite being targeted by blatantly racist, nativist mailers, Falguni Patel and Jerry Shi (who are Indian-American and Chinese-American, respectively) ran for and won seats on their local school board in Edison, New Jersey.
- In Massachusetts, Michelle Wu, Ayanna Pressley, Annissa Essaibi George, Andrea Joy Campbell, Lydia Edwards, and Kim Janey all won seats on Boston’s City Council and showed that when fully enfranchised, not only can Women of Color run for political office, they can WIN.
- With a campaign that strongly appealed to female voters, Yvonne Spicer won the first mayor’s race in Framingham, Massachusetts (the former town voted in April to reform the town government). She may be the first popularly-elected African-American woman mayor in the history of the state.
- Melvin Carter III ran an inclusive campaign, with an enthusiastic, positive vision and that may have been a key factor in his mayoral win in St. Paul, Minnesota. He will be the first African-American mayor of the city.
- The City Council of Palm Springs, California is now entirely queer, thanks to successful campaigns by Lisa Middleton and Christy Holstege (Middleton is transgender and Holstege is bisexual).
- Raven Matherne became the first openly transgender lawmaker of Stamford, Connecticut.
- Tyler Titus became the first out, transgender official elected in Pennsylvania.
- Gerri Cannon of New Hampshire won a seat on the Somersworth School Board.
- In a supremely delightful smackdown, Danica Roem trounced her Republican opponent, Bob Marshall. This win is extra poignant bc in addition to being chief homophobe of the state of Virginia since 1992, he authored a vile bathroom bill in 2016 that would have had awful repercussions for Roem and every other transgender citizen of Virginia.
Tuesday’s wins were significant for multiple marginalized communities. The successful campaigns ran by so many transgender people, women, and People of Color demonstrated that people in this nation are willing to support candidates who are not white, straight, heterosexual, or cisgender. It also showed that they can run for office and they can win. On a symbolic level, these wins also served to repudiate the vision of this nation held by the man whom white supremacists, Nazis, and the worst elements of USAmerican society crawled out of the gutters to support last November. It is that symbolism that made me most happy on Wednesday morning. With so many people from marginalized communities being elected to various offices, it really felt like the people being harmed most by the rhetoric and policies of the current administration stood up, grabbed hold of this country and said “Fuck you. This is our country too and we’re not giving up without a fight.” Hopefully that can be replicated across the country in 2018 and 2020.
***No, I’m not kidding. If you’ve the stomach for it, check out this Breitbart post to see for yourself. Don’t worry, I used Do Not Link.