I have had it. I'm fed up with this year. We won't even talk about all the talented, loved figures who've died this year. There are always deaths like that, but this year, we were hit hard in this arena. Aside from the Angel of Death hovering over our favorite writers, actors, musicians, and other artists, this year has been downright ugly and mean—one could even say, nasty.
The election has thrown its grotesque, sinister shadow over the entire year, dredging up thousands of people who are happy to do and say—nay, shout—things that insult and demean whole swathes of the citizenry—immigrants, women, Latinos, Blacks, Muslims, Natives, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA people, teachers, veterans, journalists, and just about every other segment of society you can think of that isn't privileged White male. We've had one candidate running who's made no secret of his admiration for ruthless dictators and intention to become one himself and another candidate who's faced accusation and investigation after accusation and investigation, only to be repeatedly found innocent but tarred with the constant scandals, and we've had a national media who've falsely focused on those faux scandals while giving the would-be dictator a pass and billions of dollars of free publicity.
Every day, we think we've seen a new low in this election, surely the lowest it could ever go, only to have a newer, lower low replace the old one in the next day or so. We've watched Nazis, white nationalists, and the Ku Klux Klan roll out from under the rocks beneath which they'd had to hide for decades and parade openly with swastikas and Confederate flags in the would-be dictator's rallies, unashamedly retweeted by him and his campaign. The election has become a sickness infecting the entire country.
Then, there are the extrajudicial executions of people of color by modern, militarized police, the same police that our would-be dictator intends to use as shock troops to impose his will on the country, rounding up millions of people “from the first hour of [his] presidency,” the same police who enthusiastically endorse this man who openly brags about breaking laws and disregarding our constitution.
Add to all this, the standoff at Standing Rock, where Native nations from all over the United States have gathered to protect the Missouri River and their own sacred lands from destruction by a rapacious corporation. I have friends and relatives with the Oceti Sakowin Water Protectors, who are being attacked by dogs, pepper-sprayed, maced, teargassed, beaten, shot at, dragged from ceremonies and sweat lodges, strip-searched in public view, and caged, naked, in dog kennels by militarized police from seven different states—sort of a preview of what many of us in this country could expect at the hands of the would-be dictator if we're foolish enough to give him that power over us. When young students must throw themselves physically on top of elders to protect their more fragile bodies and bones from beatings with billy clubs and batons by men in law enforcement uniforms and combat gear, it seems the final straw in an ugly, hateful year.
The election will be over in a couple of days, and I hope and pray that the majority of voters in this land prove themselves to be sane and decent. But that will not do anything about the many others who have proved not to be either. As a country, we'll still have to deal with them, especially since they talk loudly about riots and violence if their dictator doesn't get the chance to rule us all. We'll still be dealing with militarized police who act like an occupying army in their own country. (I've had combat vets tell me they never rolled out in Afghanistan or even Fallujah in all the equipment these guys are using against their own citizens.) My relations will still be standing firm and peacefully as they're attacked, humiliated, and caged out in North Dakota. I want all of this nightmare to be over with the election, but I know it won't be. 2016, hateful year that it's been, seems determined to carry on its ugliness and hate into 2017.
Against this, I try to impose the facts that my husband and I are happier than we've ever been in our own private life, even as the public world seems more dangerous to us and more frightening, that I've come through a dark, physically threatening personal ordeal and am heading back to normal, that I have so many wonderful friends of all colors, races, ethnicities, classes, religions, and all other backgrounds who believe in the same love and tolerance that I do, that I do believe—in the long run—goodness, love, truth, and justice eventually triumph over hate and bigotry (though I fear that sometimes the long run is awfully long), that there are an awful lot of us working to bring decency and equality back into our public sphere.
2016, you've made it downright hard to remember these good truths, but I keep reasserting them against your miserable meanness. I can hardly wait to see your backside, nasty year. Good riddance, even though we won't be rid of most of your pestilent detritus. But it won't be the first time in this country's history that we've had a big moral cleanup job to face after a horrible paroxysm, i.e., mass deportations of citizens of Mexican descent in the 1930s, the camps for Japanese-Americans in the 1940s, the McCarthyism of the 1950s, the violent segregationists of the 1960s, and more before and after those. Every so often, the worst this country contains comes out publicly. Then, the good, decent folks, who usually spend their time quietly minding their own business, have to come out and clean house—and then work hard to mop up the resulting mess. But we always do. I remind myself of that.
2016, you've done your worst, and it's been pretty bad, but we decent folks of the U.S. are coming after you finally. We've had enough, and we're bringing our brooms, mops, and disinfectants with us. Your time has finally come.