The Democratic Party

of Hood County, Texas

Good Things from 2017

December 28, 2017


This was a hard year for us, to say the very, very least. And although this post resides on a Democrat party blog, I want to clarify that it was a hard year for more than just Democrats; it was a hard year for all those around the world who believe in truth, freedom, democracy, human rights, equality, empathy, compassion, and polite civil discourse. In one way, the rise of Trump and gang was a mysterious, unpredicted event, and it triggered a year and a half of hand-wringing thinkpieces. But in another way, there’s nothing mysterious about it at all. It’s a story as old as human history: those who already have power will seek to have more of it—by any means necessary. Fascism by any other name would smell as foul, and, of course, the “Trumpism” moniker does nothing to cover the scent. His style—and the style of those who worship him—revolves around personal aggrandization, wealth and power accumulation, dissent suppression, nationalism, and racism. One hopes that he might’ve learned by now that his word isn’t law…but he might’ve learned the lesson all the better if his cronies hadn’t been so willing to carry every last drop of water for him. We’ve been fortunate that their incohesion and incompetence has tempered their malevolence.

And that brings me to the point of this post: we’ve actually been fortunate in more than one way this year, and I want to spend a minute meditating on some of those ways. Of course, this year was a dark cloud that will hang over world history for generations (if not for the rest of its existence), but that cloud may not have been without its silver lining; and we’ll do well to ponder some of its positive outcomes. I’ve made a list—and checked it twice—of all of the things for which I’ve been thankful this year. Here they are, in no particular order.

The “blue wave” (the rising tide of Democrat enthusiasm) seems like it might be a real thing! We won a ton of races this year! Ralph Northam won in Virginia and Doug Jones won in Alabama. Even Jon Ossoff’s race in Georgia and Rob Quist’s race in Montana showed that there’s unrest in red states. And those were just the high-profile battles; Danica Roem, Sheila Oliver, Elizabeth Guzman, Hala Alala, Kathy Tran, Ayanna Pressley, Tyler Titus, Andrea Jenkins, Justin Fairfax, Lee Carter, Ravi Bhalla, and others also pulled out victories in lower-profile seats. And all of these candidates were supported by a groundswell of volunteers who came out of the woodwork to call and canvass for them. On top of that, Democrats out-gave Republicans in number of donations: Democratic House candidates received 153,422 small contributions ($100 or less) in the 2017 elections, compared to 7,332 small contributions for Republicans! Of course, campaign finance needs serious reform, but in the meantime, it’s nice to see that the odds (and even gerrymandering) can sometimes be overcome when good people get involved to give money, time, and energy to the cause. I’m trying hard not to get my hopes up, but it sure would be nice to see a Democrat majority in the House and in state bodies in 2018! (And, by the way, this isn’t just about wanting to see my team win. I’m not into tribalism. What I’d love to see is Americans embracing the positive values listed above and breaking the strangleholds of injustice and inequality—regardless of what names the parties go by or how many parties there are.)

New, awesome podcasts like Pod Save America are helping to fuel the surge in activism and engagement. PSA, a podcast created by three officials from Obama’s administration, now averages 1.5 million listeners per episode. (Compare that to MSNBC, which averages 1.3 million viewers per day.) With that kind of clout, they’re able to have access to an impressive array of guests: for example, senators regularly call in, and they spoke with Doug Jones the day after his election. While other media organizations fight against internal bias—and are nevertheless accused of it anyway—Crooked Media, the parent company of PSA, is able to state quite unequivocally that it’s Democrat-leaning and yet still generate a huge, enthusiastic audience. My hypothesis is that they’re filling the holes left in the absence of Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s hilarious, incisive political commentary; at least, that’s what they’re doing for me. But in any case, it’s nice to see a progressive media company rising up to combat the right-wing propaganda machines of Fox News, Breitbart, and InfoWars. To be clear, Crooked Media is not a propaganda machine and is not playing a role symmetric to those other organizations. Instead, they seem to have won over some moderate Republican listeners because of their honesty, fairness, humor, and clarity of insight. Anyway, I’m thankful for them!

Mueller’s investigation is making progress. Of course, Republicans are trying their very best to discredit and destroy it, but even if they’re successful, the investigation has already turned up enough evidence, indictments, and convictions that they’ll have a hard time sweeping it under the rug…especially if Democrats take back the House in 2018. Hopefully, all of the attention on the ways that Russia tried to interfere with our elections will help to inoculate us against further attempts. I hope that it also teaches people to be both more skeptical and more openminded as they consume news, especially via social media outlets.

ACA enrollments are almost equal to last year’s in spite of the facts that the enrollment period was shortened this year and that the Department of Health & Human Services actively campaigned against it. Moreover, it seems that the public opinion about the ACA has shifted to the positive side (even among Republicans…so long as you don’t call it Obamacare!), which means that it’ll be much easier for Democrats to run on progressive, single-payer platforms in the future.

The #MeToo movement has provided women with the necessary social cover to come out of the shadows, to share their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse, and to see some small amount of justice done.

The courts have made their voices heard again and again in repudiation of the stupid, bigoted policies coming from Trump and crew. They fought back against the Muslim travel ban, the transgender ban in the military, and the attempt to defund “sanctuary cities.”

I’ve probably failed to include several things in this list, but those are enough to keep me going in these otherwise dark times. I hope that you all have safe and happy holidays (or a merry Christmas, or a happy Hanukkah, or whatever holiday—or none—that you prefer; we’re all cool here), and I look forward to working with you all in the coming year to make Hood County and the world a better place!

Happy New Year!