By almost any measure, 2016 was a flaming bag of dogshit left on the world's doorstep. There were images of shell-shocked children who in the end may or may not have survived the atrocity that was Aleppo. There was the worst mass-shooting in American history at an Orlando gay nightclub and a high-profile runner-up at a Charleston church. There were terror attacks in Nice, Brussels, Munich and Berlin. There were the deaths of Bowie, Prince, Wilder, Fisher, Michael, Frey, Phife, Ali and on and on and on. There was Brexit. And of course, there was the triumph of Donald Trump and the white nationalist movement that considers him the embodiment of its newfound legitimacy. Maybe, just maybe, you personally had a pretty decent year. The planet as a whole absolutely didn't.
Here's the worst part of all, though: with its dying breath, the final "fuck you" of 2016 comes not from us to it but from it to us. It would be a relief to be able to bid this nightmare of a year goodbye tonight and -- however worthlessly symbolic -- usher in a new trip 'round the sun in the hope that what's to come will be better than what we've just been through. But let's face it, it won't. 2017 is going to make 2016 look like an extended roll on the kind of ecstasy that feels like getting sucked off by a unicorn. The reason is that a lot of what made this past year such a living Bosch painting was merely the threat of a Trump presidency. It was a seemingly terminal presidential campaign that sunk lower and demanded more of our collective national psyche than any before it in modern times. The one saving grace is that most couldn't imagine an America fucking stupid enough to actually put Trump's sagging orange ass in the Oval Office.
Well, we sure learned our lesson there. That threat is about to become a reality. The petulant man-child, the reality show con-man, the illiterate buffoon, the serial liar, the thin-skinned braggart, the narcissistic bully, the neo-Nazi icon -- this man is about to become President of the United States.
This morning, we awoke to a New Year's greeting via Trump's communication tool of choice -- the nonstop stream of cerebral diarrhea that is his Twitter account. In classic Trump fashion, though, this particular greeting was little more than a petty insult aimed at those who didn't support him for president. "“Happy New Year to all,” Trump wrote, “including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!” Ladies and gentlemen, your next President of the United States: a guy who already has an enemies list and who feels no shame in lobbing trollish, juvenile taunts at half the country. For the moment, as much as he'd like to believe otherwise, he has only a nominal amount of power. He's not president yet so right now his thoughtless misadventures and rhetorical flights of fancy, while dangerous, won't necessarily send us into an immediate death spiral because there's a smart, sober, serious man in control who can clean up his messes for him.
That changes in 20 days, though.
Barring some kind of miracle, like the country's power structure coming to its senses and invalidating the election both for the good of all mankind and given that the process was in part hijacked by Russia, Trump will be inaugurated on January 20th. It's already become clear that he's going to bumble his way from one disaster to another, while willfully presiding over an unprecedentedly corrupt administration and crushing anyone who dares to express dissent. 2017 will be marked by the dawn of this new era and, as such, it's going to be a fucking political and cultural hellscape that will see social progress reversed and the Obama advances stomped underfoot by a power-mad GOP just for the hell of it. If we're lucky, Trump will be impeached for, if nothing else, his unconscionable, ass-kissing subservience to Vladimir Putin, which he places over the good of the country -- or maybe the fact that he'll probably try to push us into a nuclear war with Liechtenstein because its prince insulted his hands. But even that would be cataclysmic when you consider the fallout.
So, yeah, as much as it would be great to think otherwise -- to ring in 2017 with an eye toward a hopeful future -- things are about to get much, much worse.
But, hey -- Happy New Year.