Now is the time of year when “A Long December” by Counting Crows keeps playing on repeat in my head.
The music is melancholy, and the lyrics are full of pining and wanting forgiveness, but there’s something about the optimism of the hook that gets me every time:
“It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe / maybe this year will be better than the last.”
In the waning days of 2017, it’s clear that it hasn’t just been a long December: It’s been an incredibly long couple of years. In 2016, we watched people we thought we respected swallow the lies and hateful rhetoric of the biggest con man of all time. While all this ugliness and hatred popped up around us, some of our most important cultural heroes — Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Leonard Cohen — died seemingly every week.
And 2017 wasn’t much better.
Much of what we feared would happened during this presidency not only proved true but ended up worse than imagined. Our federal government declared war on the environment, war on Muslims, war on immigrants, war on health care and war on working-class people, all the while pushing a tax scam that would only serve to make themselves richer. On top of this, we found out many of our other cultural heroes — Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Al Franken — were perpetrators of sexual assault.
It’s been a really dark few years indeed, but I do think that maybe this year will be better than the last two. I know you’re thinking I’m just an optimist, but, really, 2018 might just be great.
For one, seeing what happened with the #MeToo moment was awe-inspiring. It was heartbreaking to see so many women whom I love come forward with their own stories of mistreatment and abuse, but the power of #MeToo shook everything from Hollywood to the music industry to Capitol Hill. And because of this, we’re finally having public conversations that should’ve been taking place for centuries.
I’m also inspired by the activists these past few years have produced. This year, we shut down airports when they tried to ban our Muslim neighbors. We surrounded federal buildings when they threatened to expel Dreamers. We booted white supremacists from our cities when they thought they could march down our streets. Right now, we’re seeing a new generation of bad-ass activists who are harnessing the power of social media to organize.
More than anything, though, I’m optimistic about the 2018 midterm elections. Trump supporters are loud and hard to ignore, but they’re dwindling. Sure, there are still plenty of people who are so ignorant they’d rather vote for a pedophile than a Democrat, but people around the country are waking up to the fact that they’ve been duped. (Just search “Trump Regrets” to see all the Facebook and Tumblr pages devoted to social media posts of buyer’s remorse.)
But beyond that, activists, organizers and political operators have targeted the seats most easily turned blue in the 2018 election. The amount of money and volunteers that will pour into those districts will be incredible, and the Republicans will lose both the House and the Senate in 2018. The writing is on the wall.
So, yes, it’s been a long December, but there are so many reasons to believe this year will be better than the last.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.