I can’t imagine a worse start to 2017 than Donald Trump being inaugurated as the nation’s 45th president. My Blade column immediately following his election was a simple statement in a black border “Let Us Pray.” We quickly understood prayer wasn’t going to do it and instead we had to take to the streets and then VOTE.
First came the Jan. 21 ‘Women’s March’ where millions of women, and the men who support them, took to the streets to say in a loud and clear voice “we will resist.” Then came the Science March, the Immigration March, the Environmental March and the March for LGBTQ+ Equality. We have shown we will resist what we saw coming down the pike and I don’t think many of us expected it to be as bad as it is. Donald Trump, while not getting any major legislation passed (this column being written before a final vote on his disastrous tax reform package), has managed to take us backwards in nearly every area of life. Trump has set a tone in the country allowing the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis to feel he actually welcomes their support.
The first step backwards was the nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. His right-wing vision of America will hurt us for decades. Just as will all the other lower-level federal judges Trump is nominating and the Republican Senate is confirming. Then came the ban on immigrants and the nominations and confirmation of a slew of Cabinet secretaries in areas from Education to Environment to Health and Human Services; all with an ultra-conservative leaning hell-bent on rolling back every progressive gain made during the eight years of the Obama administration. This includes taking money from public education to fund private schools; rolling back as many parts of the Affordable Care Act as possible even without new legislation; and trying to keep transgender people from serving in the military among other disgusting initiatives including recently rolling back net neutrality.
When it comes to foreign affairs, Trump is scaring the world with his positions and statements. He is doing everything possible to get us into a war alienating nearly every one of our long-time allies. He appointed a Secretary of State with no statecraft experience and is decimating the State Department to the point it can’t function. Good people are resigning because they don’t want to be associated with what he is doing.
Politically, we see Trump ensnared in a massive investigation of whether or not he or anyone else in his campaign colluded with the Russians to win the election. We know Russia interfered and we are seeing by dribs and drabs more and more of his high-level campaign staff being indicted. Now the Special Counsel is apparently looking at whether Trump can be charged with obstruction of justice for trying to end the investigation. He and Republicans in Congress are still clearly obsessed with Hillary Clinton even though he won the election.
As the year comes to an end we are in the middle — some think it’s just the beginning — of a tipping point in how society tolerates sexual harassment. We are finally reconsidering what will be acceptable behavior for men toward women and what do we do to punish them for unacceptable past behavior.
Recently, we have seen a glimmer of hope the American people won’t accept quietly what Trump and the Republican Congress are doing to us. Democrats took over the governorship in New Jersey, held on to the one in Virginia by a large margin, and made huge gains in Virginia legislative races. Transgender candidates won races across the nation. Women in huge numbers are running for office at every level including lesbians Angie Craig in MN 2nd district and Gina Ortiz Jones in San Antonio, both running for Congress. We took heart when in Alabama enough voters actually voted for decency for Democrat Doug Jones to win.
So a toast to 2018 and to the people who will stand up, speak out and vote to put Democrats back in office.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.