As we get ready to put 2017 into the history books, let’s take a look back at one of the most intense years in recent history. Lists may vary, but here are ten of the most notable news stories of 2017.
1. Trump takes office
We knew things would be different with Trump, but I’m not sure anyone knew they would be this different. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to admit that Trump’s way of doing things is completely novel. Whether it’s skipping the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, bullying members of his own party, or steamrolling reporters, Trump has shattered the mold for presidential behavior. Does his approach damage the nation? Twenty years ago this might have been the case, but the downward political spiral under Obama was already so bad that Trump’s edgy antics might be the only thing that can bring about a true reset.
2. Fight over Obamacare
The takeaway from this is that despite controlling both houses of Congress and the Presidency, Republicans were not able to repeal Obamacare. When voters go back to the polls, will they feel motivated to vote for politicians who don’t do the basic things they’re elected to do?
3. Russia investigation
In what is turning out to be the biggest charade in modern political history, the investigation into the alleged Trump-Russia conspiracy continues. I said it in June of this year and I’ll say it again: the idea that Trump conspired with the Russians is ludicrous. The longer it continues, the more it seems to implicate the mainstream media for fanning the flames of this story this year. We all get it: your candidate lost the election in 2016 and you need to fight back. Just do it by preparing for 2020 instead of trying to undo what voters have already chosen.
4. Tax cut plan
Despite the loss of the Obamacare fix, Republicans managed to save face through tax reform at the end of the year. This could be a huge deal in engaging the engine of the American economy over the next 15 years, and it could very well be the cornerstone of Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020.
5. Immigration issues
6. Sexual harassment
While the disastrous cultural effects of the 1960s sexual revolution have been felt in America for decades, 2017 was the first year I can remember in which there was a widespread revolt against one aspect of the revolution. It’s interesting that it centered on Hollywood, which is ground zero in the manufacturing of cultural immorality today. Let’s hope that people start to wake up not only to the reality of sexual harassment in the context of work relationships, but also to the negative aspects of the sexualization of culture.
7. Supreme Court appointment
Early this year, Trump had his first real political victory in the nomination (and later confirmation) of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. At 50 years old, he could serve on the bench for the next three decades, which could make him Trump’s most enduring policy decision.
8. National monuments
The scandal over whether Confederate monuments should remain standing in public places peaked sometime during the middle of the year. Extremes on both sides of the issue came out, either to defend the statues from being torn down, or to tear them down by the will of the mob. What’s interesting is that this was all an argument over art and whether or not art should be allowed to stand in public if it offends some people. Although the issue seems to have died down on its own without being fully resolved, it may resurface again in the future. I think the only way to handle this problem is by allowing the decision to maintain or remove such statues to be made by people in the local community.
9. Yucca Mountain
10. Gun control
Two events brought gun control into the national discussion – the October massacre in Las Vegas and the November shooting in Texas. Strangely, questions surrounding the Las Vegas incident have been left unanswered, despite being the most horrific shooting in American history. Can we expect to learn answers about it in 2018? Or will it be forgotten by our cultural consciousness?
Looking ahead to 2018
As crazy as 2017 was, I expect that the next year will be just as crazy, if not crazier. I truly think that America (and the West) is on a dangerous path and that it probably cannot survive another 50 years or so. There are simply too many challenges across different fronts (economic, political, cultural, religious) and that Western culture is too fractured to survive.
And on that cheery note, Happy New Year!