Out of Left Field: 10 good things about 2018

Michael Dinnocenzo

1. Democrats won control of the House with huge midterm victories, the most seats gained since Watergate (1974), and a higher percentage of the popular vote than the GOP Tea Party in 2010.

2. Now that Republicans no longer control all branches of government there is a decent prospect for common-sense immigration policies and practices. The macho and fear-mongering Trump will be forced to yield to rising public opinion and to Republican legislators heeding the 2018 election trends. [please see my next column for immigration reform discussion]

3. With the 2018 midterms, Democrats gained control of all committee chairs in the House. They can finally get beyond “subpoena envy” and subject Trump to the full scrutiny he has earned (including the legal right of the House to examine all Trump’s tax returns). Supreme Court scholar Jeffrey Toobin refers to Trump’s “vulgar demeanor” and describes him as “the least dignified man ever to serve as President.”

4. As the 2018 elections show with Democrat wins in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, Trump’s razor-thin 2016 margins will not be sustained (if he is even able to be a candidate in 2020). More and more citizens are embarrassed that he occupies the White House and they are inclined to agree with the one word characterization of Trump as “Huckster.”

That was made by past Republican Massachusetts Governor William Weld (a former Long Islander and a descendant of the great abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld).

5. TIME magazine selected for 2018 Person of the Year “THE GUARDIANS and the WAR ON TRUTH.” Four courageous journalists were celebrated. This was a clarion call for media and citizens to affirm that democracy depends on an informed citizenry that can make judgments based on reliable data. [Former FBI Director – and lifetime Republican – James Comey criticizes GOP elected officials for not challenging Trump’s “Pinocchio Presidency”].

6. The play version of the film “Network” opened to rave reviews in 2018 and it has already been extended to fall 2019. The New York Times review cited “A ‘Network’ for a New Era,” and noted: “Howard Beale hollers again, in a world awash with fake news.” More people will be joining the news anchor (played by Bryan Cranston) in shouting: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Blank Slate reader Kathy Rittel wrote in 2018: “A school principal demonstrating Trump’s apparent misleading, lying, and denigrating behaviors likely would be removed from his position quickly.”

7. Leading forces for change in 2019 were big winners in 2018: women and millennials. There are now more women in Congress than any time in history. More than three dozen women got elected for the first time; all but one was a Democrat (and two-thirds of them replaced men).

There is now a “Badasses” female Democratic House caucus of military veterans; they announced readiness for decisive action. Of nine women elected governor in 2018, six are Democrats. We may be approaching a testing time of Helen Fisher’s book “The First Sex” in which she argues that women will lead in the 21st century and their policies and actions will be different from men.

Look to the rising millennials (who set a midterm turnout record) as a youth cohort turns out 12,000 new 18-year olds every day (they outnumber the Boomers – only 10,000 a day, and their demographics and politics are much different from older Americans).

8. Paul Krugman, who has been on the mark in criticisms of leaders and policies for decades, advanced an admonitory series of columns at the end of 2018.

To sample one powerful example of his incisive literature of warning, check “The Depravity of Climate Change Denial.” Krugman states that in many ways Republicans who are climate deniers resemble tobacco cancer denialism. Tobacco owners lied about health damage; their products caused deaths and they eventually paid fines.

But, concludes Krugman, bad as tobacco was, climate change deniers are depraved because “climate change isn’t just killing people; it may kill civilization.”

9. The Organization of American Historians announced in December that a new workshop will be sponsored for the first time at the national convention: “Op-Ed Project: Write to Change the World.”

Many of the nation’s top historians published books in 2018 that seek to apply perspectives from American history to the bizarre Trump presidency (check volumes by Andrew Delbanco, Joseph Ellis, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jill Lepore, among others).

10. For another list see: “10 good things about 2018” by Medea Benjamin (she grew up on Long Island and went on to become one of the most courageous and celebrated peace activists in the world). Her list can be read at CODEPINK.ORG

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