A wise person said at the end of last year: “Sad as it’s been, there’s still a very strong case for letting 2016 continue indefinitely.” That person knew what we all should know by now: Things can always get worse!
Once upon a time, some people believed that Barack Obama is a Muslim agent of the devil. This year, those people got the keys to government. True, the Faustian bargain was made two Novembers ago, but now the payments have come due. In 2017, it passed as a comforting thought to fantasize that the national bargain wasn’t between voters and a pussy-grabber, but between the pussy-grabber and Vladimir Putin. Cravenness spread like an infection. The trickle-down came quickly in Montana, where a candidate assaulted a reporter, lied about it, and performed public contrition in front of supporters who had already rationalized his offense. At times the punishment seemed almost cosmic—hurricane after hurricane, a president tossing paper towels at the afflicted. But such thinking gives the cosmos too much credit. Five years after Sandy Hook marked an apparent pinnacle of senseless violence, we got a man with a gun in a gold-plated Las Vegas window.
But good things did happen in 2017. Richard Spencer got punched, for one. The occasional Whitefish resident was explaining Pepe the Frog to a reporter near the Trump inauguration protests when a bystander socked him in the face. Not only was it good to see a Nazi get punched, it also gave us an opportunity to see who was willing to go on record with the opinion that it’s wrong to punch Nazis. And speaking of memes, “Based Spartan,” neé John Turano, a man who dressed in a warrior costume alongside friends with Kekistan flags, was converted out of fascism at a June “free speech rally” in Portland, Ore., that convened the alt-right and antifa.
Some off-year electoral victories heartened progressives, two of the biggest of which happened in Montana when Billings put a Democratic Socialist on City Council and Helena elected a Liberian refugee as mayor. The #MeToo movement meant that some powerful men finally got fired for being horrible to women. Roy Moore is not a senator. And the tax bill has ensured that Generation Z will grow up to be Marx-loving capitalism-destroyers. But maybe the best thing about 2017 is that we can no longer believe we’ve hit bottom. There is no bottom. The prospect is bracing. Onward!