In these worst of times, I keep looking for the best of times, the best in people, the best in possible outcomes, but it’s hard.
Most days, it feels that common decency is under siege by a GOP wave of “shock and awe,” where Republicans use their almost overwhelming power to control every branch of the federal government. This displays a force that almost paralyzes our perception and dreams of America.
It no longer, even remotely, feels like a government of, for and by the people. Instead, it’s a government of, for and by a partisan ideology being rammed down our throats in the name of far-right conservativism and so-called Christian values; with little, or no regard for the vast majority of Americans — even those who voted them in to office.
From day one, it’s been about turning back the hands of time for women, gays, workers, immigrants, education, the environment, you name it. And if change/advancement has come during the Obama Administration – like recognition of rights for the LGBTQ community, immigrants/dreamers, etc. – then a special level of racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, penis-envy tirades was unleashed by the pussy-grabber-in-chief; usually in an overnight Twitter storm and reiterated by his band of clueless henchmen/women.
2017 has been a hard year! But the fighter, dare I say the optimist in me, continues to look for the best of times, the best in people, the best in possible outcomes and I’ve seen it – flashes and glimmers of hope and resistance.
Starting with the Women’s March in January 2017. It was held in Washington, D.C. and across the country, attended by not just women, but all who believe the destiny of this country lies in its diversity and inclusion.
The event included people who are young, old, black, brown, LGBTQ, immigrants, women and even men, marching together. Those marching often held the hands of their children, not in protest of the election results, but for the protection of all we hold dear. And the marches/protests didn’t stop with the Women’s March. Americans took to the streets and airports in protest of 45’s refugee and visa ban/Executive Orders. Communities across the nation declared themselves sanctuary cities, limiting their cooperation with U.S. Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) efforts to implement immigration policies.
After undermining the Environmental Protection Agency’s effectiveness by appointing a climate-change doubter and antagonist of mainstream science as leader, as well as pulling the U.S. out of The Paris Agreement, many American governors and mayors rejected Trump’s isolationism on climate issues. Most notably, California Governor Jerry Brown and the former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg led an initiative that aims to bring together states, cities, businesses, universities and citizens to ensure the U.S. delivers on its Paris Agreement goals.
The ban on the military service of transgender Americans was met with outrage from many, including the Interfaith Alliance, Anti-Defamation League and American Humanist Association. Even Caitlyn Jenner had a moment of clarity, clapping back on this.
The American Civil Liberties Union joined several other advocacy groups in filing a lawsuit to challenge the directive. The Pentagon continued with plans to accept transgender applicants to the military on Jan. 1, 2018, after a federal judge declined to put the deadline on hold.
Dismayed with the direction of the country since the 2016 elections, more women are running for office. Angered by Trump’s election, they were energized by the Women’s March. Thousands came to Detroit in October for the Women’s Convention planning strategies and actions to “reclaim” their time. More are expected to get involved in the flood of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men.
Those who are in office, like Rep. Maxine Waters, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris are speaking out and holding their male political counterparts to task. The November 2017 elections saw a high number of women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community elected to office in their states and municipalities, most notably transgender candidates Danica Roem for a House of Delegates seat in Virginia, and Andrea Jenkins, was was the first openly transgender candidate to win a city council seat in a major city.
The #MeToo movement finally put the spotlight on sexual assault/harassment, and inappropriate behavior in the wake of allegations in the film industry, media and politics, although the occupant of White House has yet to be called out for his actions.
Despite the President’s endorsement, Roy Moore, also accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, was defeated by Doug Jones in a special election. An election which saw a large turnout from African American voters, especially black women. They were responsible for Jones victory, but, sadly, saw a majority of white men and women voting for Moore despite the sexual allegations and removal from the Alabama bench for defying the law.
Little victories, but the GOP hits keep coming. They closed out the year jubilantly, celebrating the passage of a sweeping tax overhaul.
According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the biggest benefits from this tax reform will primarily go to the richest people in the country, i.e. the top 5 percent of earners. The Brookings Institution said the bill would eliminate personal exemptions and raise the lowest marginal income tax rate to 12 percent, producing a “mixture of effects” for low- and middle-income households.
An NPR commentator said that for many middle-class Americans the Tax reform will amount to approximately two tanks of gas for the family car a month. Republicans are hoping the American public will be so tickled for these tax crumbs that they will overlook the continued income inequalities, attacks on the LGBTQ community, education, environment, global isolationism and overall bad decisions. McConnell, Ryan and the Grand Old Party of prevaricators, predators, patricians and phonies.
I’ll keep looking as we go into this New Year for the best of times, the best in people, the best in possible outcomes and maybe, just maybe, in 2018 – the time they will be a-changin’!
Michelle E. Brown is a public speaker, activist and author. Her blog radio podcast “Collections By Michelle Brown” airs every Thursday at 7 p.m. Current and archived episodes can be heard on Blog Talk Radio, iTunes, Stitcher or SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/CollectionsbyMichelleBrown/.